Alcorn’s comeback bid falls short

Published 12:58 am Sunday, November 8, 2015

LORMAN — Within the first four minutes of the game, Prairie View A&M had already scored two touchdowns against Alcorn State. By halftime, it had returned two blocked punts for touchdowns and scored 40 points.

Alcorn scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to get back in the game, but its bad first half was too much to overcome. Prairie View hung on for a 40-34 victory over the Braves at Jack Spinks Stadium.

Alcorn (5-3, 4-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) lost at home for the second time this season, but remained in first place in the SWAC’s East Division. Prairie View (7-2, 6-1) is a game behind Grambling in the West.

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“I told them I knew this was going to happen,” Hopson said. “They know, because I kind of addressed it with them before the game. We locked in in the second half and played like we’re capable of playing football.”

Prairie View led 40-14 at halftime. Fred Anderson returned a blocked punt 40 yards for a touchdown and Nick Brewer took another one back 30 yards for a score to put the Panthers ahead 19-0 with 4:42 left in the first quarter.

“I tried to prepare my team all week that we were going to have to win in a dog fight,” said Prairie View coach Willie Simmons, who was the offensive coordinator at Alcorn from 2012 to 2014. “I’ve been a part of this program at Alcorn State for three years. I know what type of character those young men have and I know what type of resilience they have. Going up early on them I knew they were going to find a way to come back.”

They very nearly did.

Lennoris Footman, who started his second career game behind injured quarterback John Gibbs Jr., sparked the Braves’ comeback bid with a 14-yard pass to Aaron Baker midway through the third quarter.

Baker scored again on a 76-yard run, making it a two-possession game at 40-27 with 2:20 left in the third.

Footman added a 15-yard pass to Tollette George, which ended the Braves’ longest drive of eight plays and 97 yards. He finished the game 13-of-30 passing for 143 yards, but also ran for 220 yards and two scores. Footman scored on runs of 36 and 52 yards in the first half.

“He played well. He’s had two sloppy condition games too,” Hopson said. “He’s a battler, competitor and he makes plays. I thought he played with a tremendous amount of effort.”

Although he started the game slow, Footman was able to shake off the struggles and get his team to rally behind him in the second half.

“Just trying to stay calm and telling the guys we’re one play away from making the big play. I just tried to do whatever I could do to get the team going whenever the ball was in my hands and tried to make a play,” Footman said.

Footman’s touchdown pass to George cut Alcorn’s deficit to 40-34 with 10:47 left in the game, but that’s as close as it got.

The Braves’ next possession ended in a three-and-out, and then Prairie View bled more than 6 ½ minutes off the clock with a 15-play, 71-yard drive that ended on downs at the Alcorn 8-yard line.

Alcorn got the ball back there with five seconds left, but Footman threw an incompletion on the final play.

Alabama St. 17, Jackson St. 12

Running back Stanley Robinson’s 26-yard touchdown pass to DeMario Bell early in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in Alabama State’s victory over Jackson State.

On fourth-and-11, Robinson rolled to the right before throwing to Bell, who caught the deflected pass in the end zone for a 17-6 lead.

Jackson State’s Jordan Williams scored on an 11-yard run with 3:14 remaining but a conversion pass failed.

Khalid Thomas rushed for 139 yards on 29 carries for the Hornets (5-4, 5-3 SWAC), who won their third straight. They are one game behind Alcorn State for the East Division lead.

Alabama State’s Ellis Richardson ran 2 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and David Albert added a 27-yard field goal for a 10-0 halftime lead.

Kwame Bowens blocked a punt and returned it 13 yards for a Jackson State (3-6, 3-4) touchdown in the third quarter.

Alabama State lost three fumbles and JSU four on a field made soggy by a game-long rain. The announced attendance was just 1,649.