Courtesy: Alabama A&M Athletics
NORMAL – It was the perfect situation. Homecoming, Bulldogs riding a six game win streak, undefeated season on the line, four-time SWAC player of the week at quarterback, no interceptions in 141 attempts, head coach Anthony Jones off to his best start in his entire A&M career, first in turnover margin in the conference, only two turnovers in six games.
That’s when strange things happen and they did as the Alabama A&M Bulldogs fell 21-20 to Alcorn State University in a match-up that has seen the winner win by 14 points or less in 18 of the last 22 meetings dating back to 1938.
Senior running back Kaderius Lacey rushed for his first 200 yard game in his collegiate career going 205 yards on 31 carries eclipsing the all-time season rushing record once held by Ulysses Banks with 2,579 yards in three and a half years. Lacey also caught three receptions for 20 yards.
Four-time SWAC player of the week Deaunte Mason had his worst game this season versus Alcorn as the Braves did a great job disguising their coverage confusing the Nashville native. After 141 passing attempts Mason’s first pass of the game on the second play of the contest was intercepted by Alcorn’s Jamsion Knox.
The first quarter was plagued with penalties and an early scoring drive by the Bulldogs, despite the turnover, saw Mason find Reshaad DeJarnett for the games longest passing touchdown to give A&M an early 7-0 lead.
The Braves would then put together an impressive scoring drive of their own lead by quarterback John Gibbs and running back Anthony Williams III…..making way for senior running back Arnold Walker to pound his way into the end zone to knot the game at 7-7.
The second quarter proved to be a defensive showdown. With loud chants of “give that dog a bone” echoing throughout the stadium, the Bulldog defense swarmed the Braves offense every possession seeking whom they could devour. Yet, the Braves defensive unit held their own…holding the Bulldogs to a three and out to open the second quarter. Nevertheless, A&M’s d-unit was definitely no joke as they returned the favor and held the Braves to a three and out.
Alabama A&M went up early in the second with a 22 yard field goal by Chance Wilson at the 7:57 mark. That was Wilson’s second made field goal of the year. Unfortunately, the Braves turned what looked like a momentum shift by the Bulldogs into a quick seven points with a 66 yard interception return by sophomore Devon Francois; Mason’s second of the game and first returned for a TD this year, that put the Braves up 14-10 with 4:04 left in the first half. For the third time this season A&M went into halftime down 14-10.
The Bulldogs opened up the second half with a long scoring drive of nine plays for eighty yards in 3:23 as Kaderius Lacey’s 39 yard run at the 8:29 mark put the Bulldogs on top for a 17-14 lead. Alcorn came back with an incredible catch by the Braves Tavoris Doss, putting ASU up 21-17 with 5:30 left in the third quarter. The one play that sticks out was the decision to go for it on fourth and two on the Alcorn’s 16 yard line.
“We thought we could draw them off sides,” said head coach Anthony Jones. “Deaunte tried to pick up the first down but was unsuccessful.”
The Bulldogs welcomed the fourth quarter with all 4’s in the air signifying the fourth. As in the previous quarters the Bulldogs got on the board first on the foot of senior Chance Wilson with a 39 yard field goal using 6:24 to add three to the Bulldogs deficit (21-20). This was Wilson’s second of the game and third of 2012.
As AAMU drove down the field for the game winning drive they were rescued from a third and 14 with a pass interference call. A personal foul flag tacked on at the end of Lacey’s nine yard run would put the Bulldogs on the Alcorn 41 yard line with another first and 10. Unfortunately the Braves were playing inspired football holding A&M and earning their third victory of the season.
The Braves three wins have come against the historical top three football schools in the SWAC Grambling State 22-21, Southern University 20-17 and A&M 21-20. The Braves have not defeated all three schools in the same year in over 20 years.
AAMU will have two weeks to think about their first loss of the season as they have a bye week before the 71st annual Magic City Classic.