Braves win one for fallen teammate
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2001
[10/14/01]About 500 fans braved the rain to see Alcorn State host Samford on Saturday, but it was one person not in the stadium who spurred the Braves on to a 17-7 victory.
Alcorn (2-3) honored teammate JeKelcy Johnson, who was shot and killed on campus Monday while trying to defend a fellow student, by dominating Samford (1-4) in every phase of the game.
Cletis Walker rushed for 82 yards and one touchdown, Donald Carrie threw for 202 yards and a touchdown and the Braves’ defense held the Bulldogs to just 2-for-13 on third-down conversions.
Former Warren Central star Thad Henderson had four tackles for Samford, which was without starting running back Fred Gilliam and lost starting quarterback Josh Kellett to a broken arm on the third play of the game. Gilliam, another ex-WC star, was held out of the game because of an ankle injury.
“We really had to go out and get this done today, because he was an instrumental part of our team. Everybody had their emotions high and we just really had to go out and get it done, because if we didn’t it just felt like he wouldn’t feel satisfied,” Alcorn receiver Marco Walder said of Johnson.
A memorial service will be held for Johnson today at 2 p.m. at the Whitney Complex. Saturday, there were also plenty of tributes to the man nicknamed “Bulldog.”
A huge banner that said: “We love you JeKelcy #53,” hung outside the Alcorn locker room. Inside, Alcorn players filed past Johnson’s jersey, which was laid out on a table just inside the door.
“He was on my mind a lot. He was my third cousin. We spent a lot of time together when we were little … ,” said Alcorn linebacker Louis Green, a Fayette native. Johnson was from Port Gibson, about 20 miles away. “He was a great person, would help anyone, and I have no doubt in my mind where he’s at right now.”
After holding Samford to one first down on the game’s opening possession, Carrie hit Kris Peters on a wide receiver screen on third-and-10 and Peters weaved through the Samford defense for a 66-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
The Braves advanced into Samford territory on their next three possessions, but missed a field goal, punted and turned it over on downs
Peters finished with six catches for 122 yards and one touchdown.
“For the past week, what happened has been on my mind. But I knew once it was time to play, we’d have to put it in our hearts and then focus on the task at hand, which was playing the football game” Carrie said.
Samford had several drives, but only advanced deep into Alcorn territory once. The Bulldogs’ touchdown came on a 69-yard screen pass from backup quarterback Ramon Nelson to fullback Jason Ogletree with 10:38 to play in the second quarter, and it was the Braves’ only defensive breakdown.
Ogletree got the first 10 yards easily, then danced along the sideline when two Braves tried to push him out of bounds. Another Alcorn tackler missed Ogletree at the Alcorn 25, and Ogletree walked in from there.
The Braves answered with a 10-play drive on the ensuing possession, however. They reclaimed the lead on Walker’s 3-yard run with 4:37 to play in the half and never trailed again.
Samford drove to the Alcorn 14 early in the third quarter, but a holding penalty combined with a personal foul pushed the Bulldogs back to the Alcorn 40. Nelson was intercepted by Green two plays later, and Green returned the pick to the Samford 5 to set up a Cicoria field goal that made it 17-7.
“It was taking a long time. Actually, I have to give most of the credit to my teammates. Howard Clark was telling me Cut back! Cut back!,’ ” said Green, who ended up running all the way across the field as well as 70 yards up it on the return.
Green said his relative and former teammate was also on his mind and in his heart during the return.
“It came as something inside. Just a drive, a motivation … I thought about him,” said Green, who also had seven tackles. “I got sad, but I also turned it into a positive reinforcement. When I got to the sideline, that was when I really picked up, pointed to the sky and said, That was for you.’ “