JSU puts Braves out of misery

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2000

T.C. Taylor of Jackson State pulls in the ball for a catch as Alcorn’s Lewis Green tries to break it up. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

JACKSON Alcorn State ended a miserable season on a miserable day with the same miserable result as the rest of its games this season a loss.

The Braves (0-11, 0-7 Southwestern Athletic Conference) harassed JSU quarterback Robert Kent all day, but the freshman picked Alcorn apart for 258 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers to hand the Braves their 16th straight loss, 30-14.

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Alcorn also helped JSU (7-4, 4-3) by amassing nearly as many penalty yards (194) as total yards (217) as 9,8016 fans braved the cold and rain.

“It’s been very frustrating, but at the same time it’s a learning process. We’ve got a young ballclub. We’ve got a lot of good players on this ballclub. But it’s been very frustrating, because I’ve never been 0-11. Never,” said junior fullback Quentin Raston, who ran for a team-high 83 yards.

Senior safety Ken Washington, who had four tackles, including a sack and three tackles for loss, said the Braves shouldn’t be ashamed.

“It’s hard. We ain’t won a game, but at the same time, we kept our heads up. I can’t understand why we’re 0-11, because of our attitude. Everyone around here has a positive attitude about things. We never put our heads down and gave 110 percent every play,” he said, tears rolling down his cheeks.

The loss sealed just the fifth winless season in Alcorn history and first since 1958, when the Braves went 0-9. It also raised new questions about the future of head coach Johnny Thomas, who has gone 8-24 in his three seasons.

Despite the rough road, Thomas remained positive about the program’s future and was hopeful that he would be back next season.

“We’re going to win, and we’re going to win big. And it’s just going to take some time for us to get it where we want it to be, and I’m still very positive about it. I’m an Alcorn fan too,” said Thomas, an Alcorn graduate. “I would love to be back. We have the program where we want it to be at this particular point, and I don’t want to leave without finishing what we have started to build. But certainly, I would love to be back.”

Thomas’ fate rests in the hands of Alcorn president Dr. Clinton Bristow. The two will have a routine season-ending meeting sometime in the next two weeks.

“He’s a good coach. If you ask me, I’d like to see all of them back. They’re good coaches,” Washington said.

“Coach Thomas is an excellent coach,” Raston said. “He’s got good morals, he teaches us to be good players … At the same time, he teaches us to be warriors on the field … I hope he comes back.”

JSU jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game on Kent’s first two TD tosses, a 25-yarder to T.C. Taylor and a 20-yarder to tight end Kendric Travis.

The Tigers missed a chance to put the game away early when Taylor dropped a sure TD inside the Alcorn 5.

Alcorn responded with a defensive stand and a nine-play, 70-yard drive capped by a 35-yard touchdown pass from Surhaver Fair to Ronald Gilmore with 13:45 left in the second quarter. After an interception by Tim Ingram at the JSU 44, Raston rumbled 37 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with 10:50 left.

“When it became 14-14, I got scared,” JSU coach Robert Hughes said.

JSU fumbled at its own 29 on its next possession, but Fair threw an interception into the end zone on the next play. After an exchange of punts, the Braves threw away the ball and their momentum on an errant option pitch by Fair.

JSU’s Elgin Andrews recovered and returned the ball to the Alcorn 29, setting up a 3-yard TD pass from Kent to Torrey Thigpen.

Alcorn had several chances to break through in the second half, but penalties wiped out several long punt and kickoff returns by Rennard Reynolds, stopped any momentum the offense generated and gave the JSU offense several first downs.

“That hurt us, and that’s the type of stuff that’ll kill a ballclub in a big game like this,” Raston said. “We were being overagressive.”