The Southern University Jaguars (SU) (0-1, 1-3) showed up to Spinks-Casem Stadium looking to break their 2 game losing streak against the Alcorn State University Braves (ASU) (1-0, 2-2) on September 23rd. The game, which had a 6:00 pm kickoff, was the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s (SWAC) Game of the Week and it did not disappoint the fans.
Southern received the ball on the opening kickoff in the 1st quarter and the Jaguars’ offense came out with a no huddle tempo that the Braves seemed unprepared for early on. A host of screen plays helped Southern get into field goal range as they took the early 3-0 lead. As the Braves took the football on their opening drive, the first play from scrimmage resulted in a spectacular one handed interception from Southern’s Free safety Danny Johnson. Southern’s offense again showed an up tempo pace on the ensuing drive as they marched the ball inside the red zone. It looked as if the Jaguars would surely increase their lead until Linebacker Solomon Muhammad caught an interception and returned it 70 yards to give the Braves’ offense possession on the 26-yard line. Alcorn was unable to take advantage of the great field position but Kicker Corey McCullough was able to tie the score at 3-3 with a 40-yard field goal.
The very first play of the 2nd quarter, the Jaguars threw a screen pass for a 30-yard touchdown to regain the lead 10-3. The Braves’ offensive passing attack continued to struggle as Alcorn went 3 and out for the third consecutive drive. McCullough entered the game and drilled a huge punt however, Southern’s Special Teams Unit did a great job blocking as the punt was returned 45 yards to give the Jaguars’ offense good field position. The game seemed to be getting away from the Braves as Southern scored easily to push their lead to 17-3 with 12:20 remaining in the 1st half. Alcorn’s offense made an adjustment as they neglected the passing attack and began to run the football. Running back DeLance Turner gave the offense a spark when he broke a 33-yard run. In addition, Running back P.J. Simmons complimented Turner with several first down runs. Turner eventually scored on a screen pass from Quarterback Lenorris Footman to cut the Braves’ deficit to 17-10. Southern answered back quickly with a touchdown pass from Quarterback Austin Howard to Tight end Dennis Craig to make the score 24-10. Alcorn marched the football straight down the field with a good running attack. Simmons re-entered the game for the Braves and broke loose for a 25-yard touchdown and cut the lead to 24-17. Alcorn’s defense rushed back onto the field, forced a 3 and out and forced Southern to punt. ASU’s offense continued to make adjustments as Footman and Turner slashed Southern’s defense on the ground, ultimately leading to McCollough’s second field goal of the game. The Braves entered halftime trailing 24-20.
Alcorn’s offensive strategy remained clear in the 3rd quarter as they received the ball after the half. After Turner converted a third down hand off, he received another carry in which he rushed 52 yards for a touchdown. The Braves gained the lead for the first time all night 24-27. ASU’s defense also continued to thrive as they quickly forced a 3 and out to give the ball back to Alcorn. Turner and Simmons alternated carries as they wore down the Jaguars’ defense with good runs. As the Alcorn offense reached the red zone, Simmons scored his second touchdown on the ground with a 15-yard run and the Alcorn State lead increased to 24-34. Southern’s offense began to gain momentum again but a dropped pass on third down lead to another Jaguar punt. After the punt, Alcorn was able to score another touchdown with an 8-yard pass from Footman to Wide receiver Marquis Warford. ASU led with 6:30 remaining and the score was now 24-41. Alcorn’s defense was thriving, leading the way was Defensive back Brady Smith who continuously called out plays and helped make sure his teammates were in the proper positions to defend Southern’s offense. In addition, the Braves’ defensive line consistently got pressure on Southern’s Quarterback Howard leading to several incompletions and a sack by Corner back Javen Morrison. After forcing Southern to punt, Footman fumbled an exchange with Turner which lead to a Jaguar fumble recovery and touchdown which shrank the Braves lead to 31-41 as the 3rd quarter ended.
The 4th quarter consisted of a plethora of punts from both teams. Alcorn did a great job of managing the clock as Turner and Simmons ran effectively. Southern was unable to move the ball against ASU’s defense and the only score of the 4th quarter saw Turner break a 50 yard touchdown run up the middle making the final score 31-48, Alcorn.
Simmons ended the game with 9 carries for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns while Turner had 272 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Turner’s performance was good enough to place him second in Alcorn State’s history for total rushing yards in a single game. Muhammad lead the defense with 13 total tackles, 1 interception, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble.
ASU will be on the road for the next two weeks. The Braves’ next contest will be on Friday, September 29th at 8:00 pm in Houston, Texas to battle the Texas Southern University Tigers at BBVA Compass Stadium.