LORMAN, Miss. – A dominant second half secured the fifth straight SWAC East Division crown for the Alcorn State University football program as the Braves defeated Jackson State 24-3 Saturday in the Soul Bowl on Senior Day.
With the win, the Braves (8-3, 6-1 SWAC) wrapped-up home field advantage for the SWAC Championship. It will be the first-ever SWAC Championship game at a host institution.
Alcorn and JSU (5-5, 4-3 SWAC) were tied 3-3 at the half when the Braves scored 21 unanswered and shutout the Tigers in the second half. The go-ahead touchdown came on the first series of the third quarter as senior P.J. Simmons ran it in from eight yards.
The Braves increased the lead to 17-3 late in the third on a 47-yard touchdown pass to freshman Juan Anthony. Alcorn put an exclamation point on the game with a 31-yard pick-six by junior Taurence Wilson.
Junior quarterback Noah Johnson threw for 177 yards and a touchdown. Anthony was the top target with four catches for 67 yards.
On the ground, junior De’Shawn Waller rushed for a game-high 124 yards. Simmons ended with 67 yards and a score.
The tackles were evenly dispersed for the Alcorn defense. Junior Solomon Muhammad wrapped-up a team-high eight, while junior Daylon Burks matched his career-high with six tackles.
The Braves out-gained the Tigers 394-195 in total offense, including a 217-92 edge in rushing. Alcorn also controlled the clock with a 35:06-24:54 advantage in time of possession.
JSU’s Jarrad Hayes was limited to a 9-of-17 passing mark with 103 yards and an interception. On defense, Darrius Woods turned in a game-high 14 tackles, while Alex Tonea had 10.
After a scoreless first quarter, JSU got on the board first with a 44-yard field goal by Christian Jacquemin. It was set up by a 15-yard rush by Hayes on 3rd-and-23 which moved the Tigers into field goal range.
The Braves evened it 3-3 on their final possession of the half. A 15-yard rush by Johnson got it going, and an 11-yard pass to Waller on 3rd-and-10 kept the series alive. Alcorn took a couple shots toward the end zone with time running out but settled for a deep 46-yarder from junior Corey McCullough which was good.
Since Alcorn won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, it got the ball again to start the third. The Braves capitalized with an 8-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by the 8-yard score by Simmons through the middle. The key plays were a 17-yard reception by junior Tavares Johnson and a 19-yard reception by Waller.
The Tigers were threatening to answer on the ensuing series after getting to the Alcorn 26. Though, on 3rd-and-6 Hayes was sacked by senior Sterling Shippy for a loss of 11 yards which pushed JSU out of field goal range. It resulted in a punt.
The Braves scored again on their next series to make it a 17-3 game at the 2:03 mark. Waller ran for 20 yards to near midfield, and Johnson connected with Anthony for 47 yards for the touchdown.
Trailing by 14 in the fourth, the Tigers looked to throw the ball as Hayes danced around the pocket on the first play, but ultimately threw a pressured pass to his right that Wilson cut in front of and returned to the house. It was the cherry-on-top for Alcorn’s second half and made it a 24-7 game with 8:07 left.
JSU made one final push after a pass to Ramone Ward went for 43 yards to the Alcorn 17. However, on the very next play, sophomore Qwnnterrio Cole stripped Hayes of the ball cleanly and dove on the fumble to cause a turnover.
The Braves will now await the winner of the Southern vs. Grambling contest on Nov. 24 to find out who they play in the SWAC Championship game on Dec. 1. Alcorn defeated both teams earlier this season with a 20-3 win over SU and a 33-26 victory over GSU.
– The Braves were already the first team to ever play in four consecutive SWAC Championship games and will now make it five.
– Alcorn improved to 14-2 against SWAC East Division opponents over the last four seasons.
– The Braves entered the game ranked top-10 in the FCS in time of possession (33:00) and will improve their tally after keeping the ball for 35:06.
– It marked the third time this year that Alcorn held the opposition to three points or less. It defeated Louisiana College 78-0 in the home-opener and Southern 20-3 on the road. It was also the fourth time the Braves did not allow a defensive touchdown, as Prairie View A&M only scored on a special teams play in a 27-13 decision.
– With a touchdown pass in the game, Johnson is now tied at No. 8 all-time in school history with Marcus Taylor for his career with 30. Johnson was added to the Walter Payton Award Watch List after the team’s last game at New Mexico State; the award goes to the best player in FCS.
– Waller has rushed for at least 100 yards in five of the last six games.
– Alcorn improved to 4-1 at home this year and 79-53 all-time at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.
– The Braves are ranked No. 2 in this week’s HBCU Poll and are receiving 90 votes in the FCS Coaches Poll. JSU is No. 8 in the HBCU Poll.
– Anthony’s 67 receiving yards and 47-yard reception were both career-highs. His previous bests were 60 yards and a 24-yard reception against Alabama State earlier this year.
– Alcorn’s captains were Shippy, Waller and senior Matthew Stewart. The Braves won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.
Courtesy: Alcorn State