The Alcorn State University Braves (ASU) (2-2, 1-0) marched into Simmons Bank Field (formerly Golden Lions Stadium) Thursday, September 23rd at 6:00 pm to take on the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions (1-2, 0-1) to secure their first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) win of the young season in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPNU. Little did they know that a slug fest awaited them.
The Golden Lions began the first quarter clicking on every cylinder as they scored the games first 17 points. The Braves, after somewhat gaining their composure, scored at the 6:02 mark when wide receiver LaCharles Pringle caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Felix Harper and with kicker Christofer Thompson’s extra point the score was now 17-7, Golden Lions. But Pine Bluff was not done as they closed out the first quarter with a score at the 1:11 mark when wide receiver Josh Wilkes caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Skyler Perry and with kicker’s Zac Piwniczka’s extra point being blocked, the score was now 23-7, Golden Lions.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff did not take their foot off of the gas as they scored at the 5:03 mark in the second quarter when Piwniczka kicked a 37-yard field goal straight through the uprights to make the score 26-7, Golden Lions, right before halftime.
Alcorn began the third quarter strong as they scored at the 8:38 mark when running back Niko Duffey scampered into the end zone on a 7-yard run but with Thompson’s PAT (point after attempt) being blocked, the score was now 26-13, Golden Lions. Arkansas-Pine Bluff regrouped and scored at the 5:37 mark when Tyqua Fleming scored on a blocked Alcorn punt but due to a failed two-point conversion play the score was now 32-13, Golden Lions. Whatever motivational speech Coach McNair gave Alcorn at halftime seemed to have worked because the Braves scored twice before ending the third quarter, making the score 32-26, Golden Lions.
The beginning of the fourth quarter promised to be magical and it was. Arkansas-Pine Bluff scored at the 14:54 mark when running back Kierre Crossley scored on a 2-yard run but the Golden Lions failed to punch in the two-point conversion making the score 38-26, Golden Lions. Alcorn answered at the 9:23 mark when wide receiver C.J. Bolar caught a 69-yard pass from Harper for a score and with a Thompson extra kick the score was now 38-33, Golden Lions. The Braves nailed the game winner at the 3:01 mark when Duffey scored on a 2-yard run into the end zone and even with the 2-point conversion failure, the final score was 38-39, Braves.
Statistical leaders for Alcorn were Harper who finished the game with 16 passes for 368 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, Duffy rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns, Bolar had 5 catches for 151 and 1 touchdown while defensively, corner back Keyron Kinsler Jr. had 12 solo tackles.
The Braves next game will be their Homecoming as they face SWAC rival the Grambling State University Tigers (1-3, 0-1) on October 9th at 2:00 pm at Spinks-Casem Stadium.