The Alcorn State University (ASU) Braves (0-1, 0-0) marched into the 2019 season looking to repeat as Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Champions but before accomplishing that goal they had the Herculean task of besting the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Golden Eagles (1-0, 0-0) in M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Saturday, August 31st, at 6:00 pm.
The Braves began the game with much enthusiasm which was short lived when USM Wide Receiver Jaylond Adams returned the opening kickoff 89-yards at the 14:46 mark for a touchdown. Kicker Andrew Stein added the extra point to make the score 7-0 Golden Eagles. USM extended their lead 7 minutes and 13 seconds later when Stein kicked a 20-yard field goal to make the score 10-0, Golden Eagles.
The Braves, at this point in the contest looked befuddled, and USM capitalized on that by scoring the first and only score in the second quarter when Stein booted a 19-yard field goal before the half to make the score 13-0, Golden Eagles.
Alcorn composed themselves during the half and came out in the third quarter and played like the 5 time SWAC Champions that they are by scoring first at the 10:43 mark when Running Back De’Shawn Waller scampered 15-yards to paydirt for the Braves’ first touchdown of the game and with Kicker Corey McCullough’s PAT (Point After Attempt) the score was now 13-7, Golden Eagles. USM immediately responded on their very next possession when Quarterback Jack Abraham connected on a 55-yard pass to Wide Receiver Neil McLaurin for the score and with a two-point conversion executed by Punter Zac Everett, the score was now 21-7, Golden Eagles. The Braves’ offense, at this point, was stuck in park and could only muster a McCullough field goal at the 4:54 mark to make the score 21-10, Golden Eagles. With 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter the Golden Eagles could smell blood and put more points on the board when Abraham scored on a 15-yard run and with Stein’s extra point the score was now 28-10, Golden Eagles.
The fourth quarter was all USM as they scored yet again at the 12:40 mark when Adams scored on an 80-yard punt return and with Stein’s PAT it made the score 35-10, Golden Eagles. The last points of the game came at the 10:52 mark when Stein kicked a 24-yard field goal to make the final score 38-10, Golden Eagles.
Although Alcorn Quarterback Noah Johnson may not have gotten the overall results he desired, he did pass enough in the game to position himself as No. 7 all-time in career passing yards at Alcorn with 4,161. Johnson was 17/31 with 143 yards and 1 interception. McCullough shined bright in the season opener as well as he became the school’s all-time leader in made field goals with 35 in his career. Waller contributed to the Braves’ score as he scored a touchdown and racked up 51-rushing yards. Wide Receiver Chris Blair also helped as he caught 4 passes for 67 yards. On Defense the Defensive Backs shined as Taurence Wilson had an interception, Javen Morrison recovered a fumble and Keyon Kinsler had a team high 6 tackles.
The Braves get a chance to redeem themselves next week when they take on Mississippi College (0-0, 0-0) in their home opener at Spinks-Casem Stadium on Saturday, September 7th at 6:00 pm.