Alcorn wallops Virginia University-Lynchburg

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 31, 2014

Virginia Lynchburg wide receiver Joel McIntosh gets gang tackled by Alcorn defenders Saturday at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Virginia Lynchburg wide receiver Joel McIntosh gets gang tackled by Alcorn defenders Saturday at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

LORMAN — Nature brought the rain, and Alcorn State brought the pain.

The Braves scored on each of their first six possessions, rolled up a 34-point lead by halftime and 331 rushing yards in the game, and cruised to a 55-7 victory over Virginia University-Lynchburg on a soggy Saturday afternoon at Jack Spinks Stadium.

Alcorn won its opener for the third time in as many seasons under coach Jay Hopson. In its last two season openers, against independent programs Edward Waters and Virginia-Lynchburg, the Braves have outscored their opponents 115-19.

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Lynchburg had minus-82 rushing yards in the game, largely thanks to five sacks and a bad punt snap that lost 31 yards and set up an Alcorn field goal.

The challenge will increase exponentially next week, when Alcorn travels to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss.

“It’s always good to get a ‘W’. You’re always happy about that,” Alcorn coach Jay Hopson said. “We still got sloppy at times, but on the whole I thought late in the first (quarter), early second we executed pretty good. It’s a great game to have to work out those kinks.”

Alcorn returned nearly all of its starters from last year’s nine-win team, and certainly looked the part of Southwestern Athletic Conference championship contender against the overmatched Dragons.

Running back Darryan Ragsdale threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Payne on the first series of the game, then added a 36-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter.

The only Alcorn possession that didn’t end in points in the first half was its last. With less than 30 seconds left in the second quarter, running back Arron Baker turned the ball over with a fumble at the Lynchburg 7-yard line.

“I thought toward the end of the first quarter we were executing on a good level,” Hopson said. “Then in the second half we got an opportunity to play some young guys. That’s always a benefit.”

Even when things went right for Lynchburg, they quickly turned south.

One of the Dragons’ few highlights was an interception by Daryl Virgies midway through the second quarter that he returned 40 yards to the Alcorn 30.

At the end of the run, Virgies appeared to either drop the ball or try to pitch it. It fell to the turf and Alcorn recovered. Three plays later, quarterback John Gibbs took advantage of a free play on an offsides penalty to hit Charles Hughes for a 77-yard touchdown and a 31-0 lead.

“That was like something you see out of a movie,” Gibbs said with a laugh.

That sequence seemed to sum up the game. Alcorn did what it wanted, when it wanted, and was only slowed down or stopped by its own mistakes.

Alcorn rushed 50 times as a team for 331 yards, with Ragsdale leading the way with 56 yards and two touchdowns.

Gibbs completed 7 of 12 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, and added another 40 yards on the ground. He didn’t play in the second half.

Haiden McCraney kicked two field goals, and Rickey led the defense with two sacks and two forced fumbles.

Alcorn’s leading rusher was actually fourth-string running back Josh Ivery, who played most of the second half. Ivory, a 5-foot-5, 150-pound junior had 64 yards and one touchdown on five carries, and also caught a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Lenorris Footman.

“(Ivery’s) a guy we all love. He’s been hard to tackle on the scout team for two years. I’m just proud of him and what he did,” Hopson said with a big smile. “Short dog had some runs.”

The only missteps were the nine penalties the Braves committed. That cost them 83 yards, but most of the time they were able to get them right back and the defense allowed just 141 total yards.

Lynchburg’s only touchdown came on an 11-yard fumble return by Deion Whittington in the fourth quarter.

“You can’t do that type thing. That’s stuff we’ve got to get better. So it’s good to get that out of your system, hopefully,” Hopson said of the penalties.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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