MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Sophomore quarterbacl Trazon Connely rushed for 202 yards and threw for 149 more with a pair of scores as Prairie View A&M fended off Alabama State 20-17 in the 96th annual Turkey Day Classic during Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) action Thursday.
The win secures the first winning season for the Panthers (6-5, 4-3 SWAC) under second-year coach Eric Dooley.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Panthers briefly fell behind 3-0 after Alabama State kicker Hunter Hanson booted a 32-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. Though Connely was picked off during the Panthers' next possession, junior Jaylen Harris ensured the Hornets wouldn't capitalize as he snagged his fourth interception of the season, setting the Panthers up at their own 21-yard line.
Connely would atone for the previous drive's giveaway, marching the Panthers down the field with his arm and legs before capping a 13-play, 79-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown toss to junior Tristen Wallace with 22 ticks left in the half. Following the point-after try, Prairie View A&M led it 7-3.
The Panthers caught the Hornets napping on the ensuing kickoff as senior Jeffrey Rector recovered an onside kick at the Hornets' 35-yard line. Two plays later, Connely hooked up with junior Kalen Riles for a 20-yard touchdown pass as the Panthers carried a 14-3 lead to the locker room.
Prairie View A&M appeared to put the game out of reach down the stretch of the third quarter as Connely started an eventual 90-yard drive with a 53-yard scamper and senior Dawonya Tucker capped the march with a 12-yard touchdown run with 5:12 left, but the Hornets managed 14 points late to pull within a field goal.
With 1:49 left, the Hornets managed a final crack at scoring , but the Panthers held strong as senior Isaiah Washington blocked Hanson's potential game-tying 30-yard field goal to preserve the win.
Connely completed 15-of-31 passes in the game. Tucker accounted for 68 total yards (56 rushing) in his final collegiate game. Wallace made a team-high five grabs for 44 yards while grad transfer Jordan Jones gained 58 yards on three catches.
Senior Reggie Stubblefield led the Panthers defense with eight stops, and junior linebacker Tre'Shaud Smith made seven stops and one sack. Sophomore Drake Cheatum picked off his third pass of the year in the game. Prairie View A&M outgained Alabama State 468-314, with the Panthers' rushing totals (319 yards) topping the Hornets' total offensive output.