LORMAN, Miss. — Despite a career-high 424 passing yards by senior Lenorris Footman, McNeese State came out on top of a seesaw affair 34-27 over the Alcorn State University football program Saturday at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.
The Braves (1-2, 0-0 SWAC) had an opportunity late with the ball in a tied 20-20 game, but the McNeese (2-1, 0-1 SLC) defense was able to force a three-and-out to get the ball back. On the ensuing Cowboys drive, McNeese drove down the field and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 33-yard pass from James Tabary to Kent Shelby with 26 seconds left.
Footman threw for three touchdowns and also caught one on a trick play. He connected with eight different wide receivers including senior Norlando Veals who tallied 112 receiving yards, one touchdown pass and a touchdown throw.
Footman also threw touchdown passes to junior Marquis Warford and senior De’Lance Turner. Warford recorded 90 receiving yards, Turner 77 and junior Raidarious Anderson 80.
Defensively, junior Myshawn Smith and junior Solomon Muhammad, the reigning SWAC Defensive Player of the Week, posted eight tackles apiece. Sophomore Kwanzi Jackson wrapped-up a career-high seven tackles including a sack, and junior Trae Ferrell notched six tackles, two for a loss, a sack and forced a fumble.
The Braves forced three fumbles in the game, but the Cowboys were able to recover all of them. Alcorn forced one turnover which was an interception by sophomore Javen Morrison.
James led the Cowboys with 310 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Early in the first quarter, Alcorn faced a 3rd and 11 when Veals made a diving grab over-the-middle for a gain of 41 to move the ball to the McNeese 28-yard line. The Braves were again situated with a 3rd and 9 when Veals made his second big catch of the drive, a 22-yarder at the two-yard line. Veals capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass from Footman to go up 7-0 with 6:47 left. The Brookhaven, Mississippi native hauled in 65 receiving yards on the drive which lasted 6:35.
The Cowboys quickly answered with a seven-play, 78-yard drive to tie the game 7-7 with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter. McNeese converted a 23-yard pass on 4th and 2 to keep the series alive. The scoring play was a two-yard pass from Tabary to Parker Orgeron.
Alcorn attempted to regain the lead early in the second quarter, but a 24-yard field goal try was blocked.
McNeese took its first lead of the contest 14-7 with 10:59 left in the half after a 24-yard touchdown completion to Cyron Sutton. It ended a six-play, 73-yard drive which included a 43-yard reception by Sutton.
On the third play of the ensuing series, Footman aired it out and found Warford wide-open along the right sideline and he raced for a 69-yard touchdown. The extra-point was no good, but the Braves cut the deficit to 14-13 with 9:40 remaining in the half.
The score remained 14-13 in favor of McNeese at the half.
The Cowboys struck early in the second half with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Darious Crawley to go up 20-14. The extra point was wide-left, but McNeese went 70 yards in four plays after a trio of long passes.
The Cowboys had an opportunity to extend their advantage but missed a 37-yard field goal at the 10:22 mark.
The Braves punched back with a 56-yard pass to Anderson which set up first-and-goal at the McNeese nine-yard line. Alcorn scored on a trick play as a direct snap went to Turner and he pitched it backward to Veals who found Footman in the end zone for a pass of seven yards. It leveled the score 20-20 with 2:11 left in the third.
McNeese responded with a nine-play, 74-yard touchdown drive to retake a 27-20 edge early in the fourth quarter. The scoring play was a two-yard rush by Benjamin Jones.
Alcorn fired back with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Footman to Turner. It came on the third play of the drive to tie it again, 27-27 with 12:26 remaining in the fourth. Footman had scrambled out of the pocket on the left side and found Turner who got behind the Cowboys secondary.
After a strong defensive stand by the Braves which pinned McNeese deep in its own territory, the Cowboys were forced to punt. Warford ran it back for a touchdown; however, an unsportsmanlike conduct call went against the Braves which erased the touchdown and allowed the Cowboys to keep the ball.
Alcorn’s defense garnered another stop which set up the Braves at their own 21 with 2:11 remaining.
The Braves will stay at home next weekend when they host Southern at 6 p.m. at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium. Alcorn is 35-27-2 all-time against the Jaguars.
Courtesy: ASU Athletics