Alcorn faces SWAC rival MVSU

Published 11:01 am Friday, September 19, 2014

After two weeks of preliminaries, it’s time to get down to business for Alcorn State.

The Braves hit the road Saturday to face Mississippi Valley State in their Southwestern Athletic Conference opener. It’s the first step toward what they hope will be the program’s first SWAC Eastern Division title, but that’s also such a long road that coach Jay Hopson said the team is just trying to win one game at a time.

“Every week is a new battle, a new competition,” Hopson said. “You can’t look ahead too far in football. You have to focus in on the now and the present or you don’t get to where you want to go.”

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So far, the Braves have been in the winner’s circle. They’re 2-1 heading into Saturday’s game, with the only loss a 26-20 heartbreaker at Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Southern Miss.

Alcorn has only allowed two offensive touchdowns in three games — both against Southern Miss — and is averaging 300.3 rushing yards per game.

Three players — running backs Darryan Ragsdale and Anthony Williams III, and quarterback John Gibbs, Jr. — have all rushed for at least 140 yards.

Alcorn is ranked first in the SWAC in nine different statistical categories, including scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense. It is also ranked third nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing offense.

“We’re pretty pleased with that,” Hopson said. “We’re 2-1 and wish we were 3-0. I think we’ve played pretty well so far. We’ve just got to do the little things a little bit better.”

By an odd scheduling quirk, Saturday’s rivalry game will be Alcorn’s second road game of the season but fourth in a row within the state of Mississippi. Alcorn follows it up with two more home games and won’t have to leave the Magnolia State until it makes a trip to Grambling on Oct. 11.

In all, seven of Alcorn’s first eight games are in Mississippi.