Defense dominates Braves’ win over Cats

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 7, 2002

[10/6/02]LORMAN When the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference get together, no one expects defense and special teams to steal the show.

Alcorn State (4-1, 2-1 SWAC) was happy to use both to avenge two straight loses to Fort Valley State (4-2, 4-0 SIAC) and close out their home schedule with a 10-7 win over the Wildcats.

The Braves finished their home schedule with a perfect 3-0 record. The last time Alcorn finished undefeated at home was in 1994 and a quarterback named Steve McNair was leading the show.

Quarterback Donald Carrie threw for 136 yards, but it was special teams returnman Lonnie Teagle who provided the Braves’ spark on Homecoming night, giving Alcorn prime field position with 123 return yards.

“I was getting frustrated, I wanted to score every time,” Teagle said. “But if I don’t score I’m trying to get the offense good field position.”

The teams started the game with two different offensive approaches. The Wildcats used an in-your-face ground attack and the Braves countered with a Houdini aerial attack, with the early results favoring Fort Valley.

The Wildcats needed only two passes (one completion for two yards) and the legs of Duron Croson to move 65 yards in seven minutes for a 7-0 lead on Croson’s 5-yard touchdown run.

Croson ran for 64 yards on the drive, 85 in the half, but a Braves’ pass interference call on fourth-and-5 provided the biggest play of the drive setting the Wildcats up with a first down on their own 22-yard line.

Alcorn countered the Wildcats’ hard-nosed approach with trickery, lining three receivers and quarterback Donald Carrie on one side of the field with senior quarterback Corey Johnson in shotgun behind center.

The formation drew a delay of game penalty on first down, followed by a 4-yard pass play to receiver Kris Peters, until the Braves struck big with a double reverse to Peters who pitched it to Carrie coming from the slot position to find a wide open Johnson down the sidelines for a 45-yard completion on the 5-yard line.

The Braves proceeded to lose six yards on three plays before the Wildcats’ Jameel Walters blocked a David McConnell 28-yard field goal attempt.

Alcorn went back to the basics in the second quarter and drove 63 yards on the strength of Carrie’s arm and punched in the touchdown on a one-yard run by Andrew Burks to tie the score at 7-7.

“We saw some things they were doing on defense and we thought we could take advantage of it,” Braves coach Dr. Johnny Thomas said. “We settled down after that.”

With six minutes remaining in the half McConnell redeemed his early miss with a 35-yard field goal to put the Braves on top 10-7 and to close the curtain on the offensive show.

The second half turned into a special teams clinic and a defensive coach’s dream as the Wildcats managed only 28 yards on seven Braves’ sacks while the Braves collected 102 yards to secure the win.

“Every win is very critical because the team set certain goals for the season, and we must be accountable for those goals,” Thomas said. “Winning this ballgame was very special for our seniors.”