Too Little Too Late


The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Champions Alcorn State University Braves (9-4,6-1) entered the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on Saturday, December 15th at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia with one thing on their minds, and that was to procure their first Celebration Bowl Championship, but that would be no easy task, because standing in their way was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Champions, the North Carolina A&T Aggies (10-2, 6-1) who had similar goals.

The first quarter saw the Aggies get on the board first as Wide receiver Zachary Leslie caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Lamar Raynard at the 12:38 mark and with Kicker Noel Ruiz’s extra point the score was 7-0, A&T. Not to be outdone, the Braves answered when Kicker Corey McCullough kicked a 29-yard field goal at the 2:52 mark to make the score 7-3, A&T.

The Aggies opened up the second quarter with a 36-yard field goal by Ruiz at the 8:33 mark to make the score 10-3, A&T. With 53 seconds remaining in the quarter Wide receiver Elijah Bell caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Raynard and with Ruiz’s successful PAT (point after attempt) the score was now 17-3, A&T. With only 3 seconds left before halftime Alcorn capitalized with McCullough kicking a 25-yard field goal making the score 17-6, A&T.

With the beginning of the third quarter the Braves’ offense was still somewhat squeamish, but at the 4:29 mark Quarterback Noah Johnson scampered for a 30-yard run to pay dirt and with a McCullough extra point the score was now 17-13, A&T. With 51 seconds remaining in the third, McCullough kicked yet another successful field goal for the Braves making the score 17-13, A&T. On the ensuing kickoff Aggie Wide receiver Malik Wilson scored on a 79-yard kickoff return and with Ruiz’s extra point the score was 24-16, A&T going into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter saw only one score at the 11:55 mark when the Braves’ Johnson scored on a 59-yard run. The Braves decided to go for a two-point conversion which was unsuccessful leaving the final score 24-22, A&T.

Johnson finished the game with 11 completions for 127 yards, 120 yards rushing and 1 interception. On the defensive side of the ball Linebacker Brelion Hollis had a game high 10 tackles.

This makes the third Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl victory for the Aggies in the Bowl’s four year existence.