Alcorn State became the first SWAC school in history to defeat McNeese State in football on Saturday evening, as the Braves erased the league’s 15-game losing skid to the Cowboys courtesy of a 30-19 victory at Cowboy Stadium in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
After a feeling out process between the two teams in the opening stanza, Alcorn (1-2) wasted little time getting out on top early in the second quarter, as the Braves rushed to a 21-0 lead over the perennial Southland Conference champs midway through the frame.
Running back Niko Duffey found pay dirt on the Braves’ first possession of the second quarter.
An eight-play, 70-yard drive was capped off by Duffey’s 13-yard scoring run up the middle of the McNeese defense to break open the deadlock. Noah Kiani’s extra-point put the Purple and Gold on top, 7-0 with 11:20 showing on the clock.
Five minutes later, transfer running back from Syracuse – Jarveon Howard, broke around the left side for 11 yards and a score, widening the Braves advantage to 14-0 with 6:06 remaining in the opening half.
After the Braves forced a punt from McNeese on the Pokes next possession, it took redshirt senior transfer quarterback Aaron Allen just one play to connect with Monterio Hunt down the middle for an 89-yard score that put Alcorn up 21-0 following Kiani’s third PAT of the quarter.
For the Braves, it was the longest scoring play from scrimmage since De’Shawn Waller’s 83-yard scoring run against Southern in 2018.
McNeese (0-3) answered just before the half to erase the zero from its scoring column, using a quick eight-play drive that took 2:57 off the clock, culminating with a 24-yard field goal from Garrison Smith.
Alcorn headed to the break leading, 21-3.
In the third stanza, the Cowboys picked up right where they left off towards the end of the first half, as a lightning-fast four-play drive that went 62 yards down the field was capped off by running back D’Angelo Durham’s 14-yard rushing score up the middle in just over a minute taken off the clock to start the quarter.
With Alcorn up 21-10 following the PAT from the Cowboys’ Smith, the Braves answered late in the period off the leg of Kiani – registering the first of his three field goals in the game for the Purple and Gold. This one a 29-yarder off the right hash to extend the Alcorn lead, 24-10.
McNeese answered in kind on the Cowboys’ next possession.
Kadum connected with receiver Kameran Senegal deep down the middle for a 21-yard scoring strike, cutting the lead to 24-17.
However, on the Braves first possession of the final period, Kiani topped off a seven-play, 54-yard drive with his second field goal of the night – a season-long 38-yarder from the left hash to bolster the lead for Alcorn, 27-17.
McNeese would turn a quarterback sack of Allen into a safety to cut the lead to 27-19 with 11:16 left in regulation.
But on the ensuing possession for the Pokes following the free kick from the safety, Ernest Woods stepped in front of a Kadum pass to intercept the ball at the McNeese 48 yard line.
That was followed by the Braves marching down the field on 11 plays and taking just 3:49 off the clock to score, as Kiani netted his third field goal of the night with a 21-yarder to put the lead back at double-digits, 30-19 in favor of the visitors from Lorman, Mississippi.
McNeese tried to push the ball back down the field later in the fourth quarter, but Kadum was intercepted for the second time on the night, as starting defensive back Tavarian McCullum stepped in front of the pass down the field and returned it 22 yards to allow the Braves to all but run out the clock down the stretch.
The Alcorn offense was paced on the night by Allen’s 15-of-27 passing performance with a touchdown through the air – that being the long stroke to Hunt in the second quarter. Hunt finished with 89 yards on that one reception and score. Malik Rodgers led all receivers for Alcorn with five catches for 70 yards.
Javonta Leatherwood added 80 yards on the ground, while fellow “trident attack” running backs Jarveon Howard (20 att., 74 yds., 1 TD) and Niko Duffey (14 att., 61 yds., 1 TD) rounded out the rushing attack for the Braves.
The defense was headlined by Terreance Ellis with six tackles, including two sacks and a quarterback hurry. Devin Dawson added five tackles with two sacks of his own. Keyron Kinsler Jr. chipped in with five tackles and a fumble recovery.
The Cowboys were led offensively by Deonta McMahon with a game-high 102 yards rushing. Kadum finished the night 16-of-33 passing for 260 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Mason Pierce led all receivers for the Pokes with five receptions for 80 yards.
Courtesy: Alcorn State Athletics
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