Alcorn backfield rumbling along as USM looms

Published 10:35 am Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LORMAN — Alcorn State didn’t find its go-to guy at running back in its season opener, but that’s OK. The committee approach seems to be working just fine for now.

Darryan Ragsdale had the biggest day of the Braves’ three primary running backs, with 56 yards and two touchdowns, but teammates Anthony Williams III and Arron Baker also contributed in a 55-7 victory over Virginia University-Lynchburg.

The trio combined for 145 yards and three touchdowns, and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. With that kind of success, Alcorn coach Jay Hopson said the multi-faceted approach would continue in Week 2 against Southern Miss.

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“If one guy is getting hot and making long runs, and he’s running over people and getting big yardage, he’s naturally going to get more touches,” Hopson said. “There’s always competition every day. That’s the beautiful thing about football. I was proud of all three guys today.”

Williams finished with 53 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 15 carries against Lynchburg, while Baker carried the ball for the bulk of a second-quarter drive that led to Williams’ first touchdown.

Baker finished with 40 yards, but also had a fumble inside the 10-yard line late in the first half.

“I thought they all ran physical. That was one thing I was pleased with. And they had a few big plays, which is always a positive,” Hopson said.

Further adding to the Braves’ running game, quarterback John Gibbs had 50 yards on five carries while playing just the first half. Gibbs was pulled after Alcorn built a 34-0 lead by halftime.

On top of that, Alcorn’s leading rusher was actually fourth-string running back Josh Ivery. The 5-foot-5, 150-pound junior played most of the second half, had two touchdown runs, and finished with 64 yards on only five carries.

“I think we all ran the ball well. Me personally, I didn’t care if we threw the ball 20 times or 50 times or zero times. We could’ve handed the ball off to them all day,” Gibbs said.

With the game well in hand almost from the beginning, the running back duties were rotated between Ragsdale, Williams and Baker. Ragsdale had the biggest highlights of the three.

The Hinds Community College transfer threw a 39-yard halfback pass to Jordan Payne for Alcorn’s first touchdown of the season on the opening series of the game, then put in some conventional running back work.

Ragsdale scored on a 36-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, and added an 8-yard TD run early in the second half that put the Braves ahead 41-0.

“All the running backs are good, so we looked real good in the running game,” Ragsdale said. “I did good, but I think I could do better.”

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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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