Eugene, Grambling hammer Alcorn|[12/4/2005]
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 5, 2005
LORMAN – Shane Phillips unleashed a booming punt, one that seemed destined to finally get Alcorn State out of trouble.
It went about 30 yards before a 25 mph gust of wind stopped the ball in its tracks, sent it straight down to earth and even bounced it backward another 10 yards.
It was just that kind of day for the Braves.
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Grambling quarterback Bruce Eugene threw four touchdown passes – three to Henry Tolbert – and the Tigers scored 25 points in the first quarter en route to a 46-19 win over Alcorn.
Tolbert caught seven passes for 113 yards and the three touchdowns, and also ran for a score for the Tigers (10-1, 9-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference), while former McCall star Landry Carter amassed 144 all-purpose yards.
Alcorn fumbled seven times in the game, losing four, and committed five turnovers in all.
“It’s hard to put into words what we didn’t do today. We made horrible mistakes on special teams,” Alcorn head coach Dr. Johnny Thomas said. “We got some things going, but would shoot ourselves in the foot with a fumble or an interception.”
Alcorn had one bright spot, and one truly terrifying moment on the day.
Junior running back Jeremy McCoy ran for 199 yards, topping the 1,000-yard mark for the season and finishing with 1,130. McCoy is Alcorn’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Rodney Thomas ran for 1,286 in 1998.
That feat was overshadowed, however, by an injury to freshman quarterback Tony Hobson. On Alcorn’s second series, a shotgun snap sailed over his head and rolled 20 yards backward into the end zone. Hobson corralled the loose ball and managed to get it out of the end zone, but took a blow to the head in the process. He remained on the ground for nearly 15 minutes before being taken from the field in an ambulance. He was treated and released from a Jackson hospital Saturday night..
“You don’t have your number one guy in there, the guy you practice with. It does break you down,” Alcorn senior offensive lineman Jonathan Lowe said. “It does bother me, because that’s my quarterback. If there’s one player I bonded with this year, it’s Tony Hobson.”
The game was originally scheduled to be played on Sept. 3, but postponed because of Hurricane Katrina. The way things went for the Braves in the first quarter, they might have been better off canceling it altogether.
Grambling scored on four of its five possessions in the first quarter, never having to go more than 51 yards on any drive. Ab Kuuan and Tolbert each scored on short runs in the quarter, Eugene hit George Piggott for an 18-yard TD pass, and punter Tim Manuel connected with Brandon Logan for a 45-yard TD on a fake.
“I’d be blocking my man and you look up and the ball is on the ground or the quarterback is getting sacked,” Lowe said. “I never could get a grasp of what was going on.”
Alcorn’s early woes were a result of their own miscues and the elements. Although the temperature was a balmy 74 degrees at kickoff, the wind remained steady around 20 mph throughout the game. Phillips, Alcorn’s punter, had to kick into the wind in the opening period and immediately put the Braves behind the 8-ball with a string of poor kicks.
His first three punts went a total of 43 yards, and a fourth was from deep in his own end. The wind helped give Grambling outstanding field position on each possession. If not for a string of overthrows and one interception by Eugene, the score could have been much worse.
“That was the first mistake we made. When the officials had the pregame conversation with me, they asked what we wanted to do if we won the toss, and I told them we wanted the ball,” Thomas said. “When we walked on the field we saw the wind was blowing unusually hard and tried to change our strategy.
And when we won the toss, the official wouldn’t let my captain change it … That was the beginning of the snowball effect.”
Alcorn also fumbled twice in the quarter, losing one, and went through three different QBs.
After Hobson’s injury, backup Oliver Bozeman came into the game for two ineffective series before giving way to third-stringer Milton Green. Fourth-stringer Chris Walker and fifth-stringer Charles Harrington got into the game in the fourth quarter. The five Alcorn QBs were a combined 5-for-16 for 102 yards with one TD and one interception.
Green did lead the Braves to a pair of scores in the second quarter that briefly got them back in the game. He ran for a 21-yard touchdown on an option keeper, then found Bozeman – who also plays wide receiver – for a 29-yard TD to cut Grambling’s lead to 25-13 with 2:51 to play in the first half.
Grambling took the ensuing kickoff and drove 65 yards in eight plays, culminating in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Eugene to Tolbert with 41 seconds to go, to push the lead back to 32-13.