The Alcorn State University Braves’ (ASU) (3-0, 5-2) football team played their 3rd Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) game on October 14th. This game was especially energetic because it concluded Homecoming Week for the Braves. The Prairie View A&M Panthers (PVU) (2-2, 2-4) rolled into Spinks-Casem Stadium in hopes of ruining Homecoming for Alcorn.
Alcorn State received the ball first in the 1st quarter of play and the Homecoming game was underway with a touchback. The Braves’ leading receiver, Norlando Veals, was unable to play in this week’s contest for undisclosed reasons and Alcorn’s passing game suffered without his presence early on. The Braves converted a pair of third down conversions on the opening drive but were eventually stopped on 4th down on the 33-yard line of Prairie View. In addition to Veals being unable to play, Alcorn’s leading tackler and defensive captain Solomon Muhammad was not a participant in the contest. The Braves’ defense seemed out of sync without him. Prairie View was able to drive over 55 yards in only 5 plays to score the opening touchdown of the game. Alcorn took over the football for their second drive and two-time SWAC Player of the Week Delance Turner ran the football aggressively. He and Quarterback Lenorris Footman orchestrated several runs that would put the Braves inside the red zone. However, 3 consecutive offensive penalties drove the Braves’ offense out of field goal range which eventually lead to another Braves’ punt. After the punt, the Panthers’ offense continued their attack. Several quick slants and Braves’ missed tackles led Prairie View into the end zone for their second score. As Alcorn took the field to open the 2nd quarter, the Braves trailed 14-0.
ASU’s Footman battled an injury all throughout the game. Backup Quarterback Noah Johnson entered the game hopeful to make a positive impact for the struggling Braves. On Johnson’s first drive he and Footman alternated snaps which led to a punt. Alcorn’s defense was tested again but Junior Trae Ferrell was able to make an open field tackle that concluded a Prairie View 3 and out. On Johnson’s second drive, he was able to find Jalen Walker several times to move the ball into Panther territory. Delance Turner then complemented the Alcorn passing attack with a pair of first down runs. For the first time, Alcorn was inside the 10 yard line. On 3rd down, Johnson was able to sneak around the Prairie View defenders as he made his way into the end zone for a Braves’ touchdown. With 11 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter, Alcorn trailed 14-7. The Panthers’ offense took back to back deep shots down field, both unsuccessfully. On 3rd down, Alcorn’s Defensive back Quintin Smith made his first of many excellent pass deflections to force a Prairie View punt. Footman re-entered the game and after a pair of negative plays and penalties, the Braves faced a 3rd and 22. On 3rd and 22, Redshirt Junior Charles Hughes reeled in a pass delivered perfectly by Footman. On the next play, Footman broke a big run for over 35 yards but was stopped just shy of the 6 yard line. Johnson then re-entered the game at quarterback and ran for a two-yard touchdown to tie the score at 14. After the touchdown, on the ensuing kickoff Nichel Herron of the Braves delivered a thunderous hit that freed the football as fellow Brave Isiah Thomas pounced on top of it. The forced fumble gave Alcorn possession on the Panthers’ 18 yard line. After a set of more penalties against Alcorn, the Braves were forced to attempt a 40-yard field goal. Sophomore Kicker Corey McCullough entered the game and nailed the kick to give the Braves their first lead of the game at 14-17 with 3 minutes remaining in the 1st half. Alcorn’s defense would again bend but not break as they again forced the Panthers to punt away the football. On this drive, Johnson would take every snap. With good runs from Delance Turner, the Braves passing game was able to open up. After a 3rd down “Roughing the passer” penalty was called against Prairie View, Johnson hooked up with Hughes for a 12 yard touchdown extending the lead to 14-24 with only 34 seconds remaining in the half. As the first half ended, Javen Morrison collected an interception to bring the Braves into intermission with even more momentum.
Prairie View received the ball to open the 3rd quarter. Alcorn’s defense had given up points on their first two drives but nothing since. It appeared the Panthers made an adjustment when their Running back Dawonya Tucker broke a 30 yard run. Once again the Braves’ defense bent but did not break. Anchored by Smith, the Braves were able to force yet another punt. Johnson started the 2nd half for Alcorn at quarterback and moved the football down the field well. P.J. Simmons entered the game on a 3rd and long and broke a 12 yard run which led to McCullough’s second field goal of the game. With 9 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter Alcorn lead 14-27. The 3rd quarter marched on with numerous defensive stops by both sides and multiple punts.
The 4th quarter started with Footman under center at quarterback and Turner in the backfield at Running back. Turner received handoffs from Footman and powered up field run after run. In addition, Simmons received several touches and gained some positive yards. Ultimately Footman was able to conclude the Braves’ opening 4th quarter drive with a rushing touchdown. PVU showed that they had no quit in them as they scored at the 11:59 mark when Wide receiver Khaderal Hodge caught a 22 yard pass from Quarterback Neiko Hollins and with Kicker Zack Elder’s successful point after attempt (PAT) the score was now 21-34 which is where it stayed. With the win, the Braves remained first in the Eastern division of the SWAC.
The Braves had vital injuries on both the offensive and defensive side of the football, yet other players stepped up. Footman ended the game with 138 passing yards, 50 rushing yards and 1 touchdown. Johnson concluded the game with 90 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 31 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Turner racked up 61 rushing yards on 14 touches. Jalen Walker added 8 catches for 100 total yards.
Alcorn State’s next game will be Saturday, October 21st at 2:00 pm against the Grambling State University Tigers (2-0, 5-1) at Eddie Robinson Stadium in Grambling, Louisiana. The game will be televised on the SWAC Digital Network.