Spirited Alcorn rally falls short

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 24, 2008

JACKSON — Though the final record for the 2008 Alcorn State Braves says 2-10, it bears a closer look.

In five of their losses, the Braves were either driving toward a possible winning score or giving up one in the final minutes. Saturday’s Capital City Classic at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium against archrival Jackson State was no different.

Through 2 1/2 quarters it appeared the Braves were headed to another blowout loss, similar to four other defeats to the likes of Troy, New Mexico State, Grambling and Prairie View.

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Then things began to happen.

The Braves blocked a punt to set up a short 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tim Buckley. Lee Robinson then picked off an errant throw from JSU backup quarterback Michael Mosley and returned it 11 yards for a second score and a 26-0 deficit was suddenly down to 26-14.

Buckley led a fourth quarter march capped by a 20-yard pass to Elliot Moore that made it 26-21 with 4:52 left. The Braves got the ball back two more times, the last ending on the Tigers 26 as Buckley’s last pass was batted down by Jackson State’s Marcel Young at the Tiger 1-yard line.

The loss was familiar. Back in the season opener, a 34-28 loss to Southeastern Louisiana, Buckley overthrew a fourth down pass into the end zone from the 8 with nine seconds left. Southern scored in the final minute to take a 15-12 Southwestern Athletic Conference game in Lorman. A month later, the Braves missed a game-winning field goal in the final seconds to fall to Texas Southern 30-29. Then a week later, the Braves were driving for a potential tying score at Alabama State but lost 24-17.

The close defeats have done little to dim the optimism of first-year coach Ernest T. Jones. The former Cincinnati assistant says he can see plenty of positives.

“We’re trying to build a program here and we’re going to build it the right way,” Jones said, just minutes after the 26-21 defeat to the Tigers. “Today was all about pride. We showed we were going to fight for four quarters. Even when we were down 26-0, I never thought we were out of it.”

Alcorn State receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux was a big reason behind the comeback with five receptions for 102 yards. Buckley, after being intercepted twice in the first half with just 12 yards passing, came back to finish 14-of-35 for 184 yards.

“We just kept fighting. I know I wanted to win and I was doing my best to make something happen,” Arceneaux said.

The game was Arceneaux’s last in a Braves uniform but he said he likes where the Braves are headed.

“For our young guys, this is something we can definitely build on. It was just little things that cost us all those close games this season,” he said.

“We showed we can compete for four quarters and that will get yourself a chance to win at the end,” Jones said. “Now, we’ve got to find a way to finish. We’ve got an exciting future here. It’s all about competition. We just need to bring in better athletes and once we do, we’ll have a program that will be playing for championships and one that will last.”


Contact Jeff Byrd at jbyrd@vicksburgpost.com.