JACKSON, Miss. – Points were tough to come by Saturday for both the Alcorn State University football program and Jackson State University, but the Tigers scored the lone touchdown in the game to take a 7-3 decision at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The touchdown for JSU (3-8, 3-4 SWAC) came in the second quarter as Terrell Kennedy rushed through the middle for 69 yards.
The Braves (7-4, 5-2 SWAC) out-gained the Tigers 339-250 in total yards but could not overcome 111 penalty yards.
Sophomore Noah Johnson got the start at quarterback and threw for 199 yards and rushed for 70. Senior running back De’Lance Turner recorded 43 yards on the ground.
Senior Jalen Walker turned in a big game with a career-high 114 receiving yards on six catches. Senior Norlando Veals, the reigning SWAC Offensive Player of the Week winner, caught two passes for 13 yards.
Defensively, sophomore Brelion Hollis wrapped up a career-high eight tackles.
JSU got the ball first and returned the kick-off to the 40-yard line, but couldn’t do anything with it after a three-and-out by the Braves defense. The drive included a tackle for loss by junior Trae Ferrell.
On Alcorn’s first possession, the Braves started at their own 12-yard line when Walker caught passes of 29 and 25 yards, respectively, to march down the field. Alcorn was set up with a first-and-goal at the eight-yard line, but settled for a 19-yard field goal by sophomore Corey McCullough to go up 3-0 at the 5:34 mark.
The Tigers completed a pass of 44 yards to Benjy Parrish on a 3rd-and-13 on their ensuing drive to move into Braves territory. Though, after a defensive stand which included a big hit by sophomore Terry Whittington, JSU attempted a 52-yard field goal that was missed wide-left.
The second quarter was a defensive battle early. Alcorn thought about going for it on a 4th-and-2 at the JSU 41, but Johnson stayed in for a pooch-kick that landed at the JSU 18 with just over five minutes left. It was his first career punt.
The Tigers threw a pass that was nearly intercepted by Hollis as both players fell to the ground attempting to maintain possession of the ball. The play was ruled a catch for JSU and not reviewed, and two plays later, Kennedy ran 69 yards through the middle for a touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 7-3 with 3:32 left in the half.
JSU took over again late in the half and moved to the Alcorn 41 with under a minute left. After a third down conversion, the Tigers attempted a 47-yard field goal but it was blocked by junior Leishaun Ealey. JSU carried a 7-3 lead into the break.
The Braves began the third quarter on their own eight-yard line after a holding penalty on the kick return. After first down rushes by Turner and Johnson moved the ball to midfield, they got pushed back by a personal foul chop block and were forced to punt.
After a good punt by JSU, Alcorn took over at its own five-yard line with 4:59 left in the third quarter. Johnson got the Braves going with a 16-yard run, followed by a 21-yard screen pass to Walker on the right. Alcorn was near midfield when another 15-yard chop block was called which resulted in a 2nd-and-26, and the Braves ended up punting.
After sacks by senior Ramonte Bell and junior Sterling Shippy, the Braves started with the ball at the JSU 37 following a penalty on the punt to start the fourth quarter. Though, after a sack on 3rd-and-6, the Braves had to punt it back. McCullough landed a punt at the one-yard line that was downed by freshman LeCharles Pringle.
The Tigers were then pinned at their own three-yard line on 3rd-and-8 when they escaped for a run of 15 yards through the middle. However, the drive ended at their own 28 after good coverage by sophomore Solomon Muhammad on third down.
The Braves took over at their own 27 with 5:04 to go. The drive started with a nine-yard completion to sophomore Tavares Johnson, followed by a nine-yard run by Turner to the Alcorn 45. After a pair of incomplete passes and an eight-yard pass to Hughes, the Braves went for it on 4th-and-2 but a quick pass to the left fell incomplete.
Alcorn had one last chance after getting the ball back at its own 39 with 1:47 left and one timeout. Johnson completed a pass to Walker, but the Tigers forced a fumble after the catch and recovered it.
The 2017 SWAC Championship game is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Alcorn will play the winner of Grambling State against Southern on Nov. 25.
Courtesy: ASU Athletics