Alcorn State slides past Texas Southern

Published 12:28 am Sunday, October 16, 2016

LORMAN — A blocked punt at the beginning of the fourth quarter gave Alcorn State all it needed to secure a 23-20 homecoming victory against Texas Southern on Saturday.

De’Lance Turner blocked the punt by Eric Medina to get the ball on the Tigers’ 2-yard line, and he ran it into the end zone on the next play. That gave Alcorn the lead for good, and it held on in the end.

“Proud of these guys, they really fought their butts off in this game,” Alcorn head coach Fred McNair said. “De’Lance (Turner) kept doing what he does on punt return and continued to block punts. They showed real effort today.”

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Medina was able to kick a 35-yard field goal for the Tigers 8 minutes later. After a three-and-out drive by the Braves, the Tigers got one final shot with 3:36 in the game. Texas Southern got to Alcorn’s 46-yard line, but the Braves’ defense held strong. Texas Southern turned it over on downs with less than a minute to go.

“(We) played a totally different game in the second half,” McNair said. “The defense stepped up and made some really big plays in the time of need. There was a big fourth down play by Jayron (Harness), being able to break that final pass up.”

Harness, a junior defensive back, said it was tough in the final stretch with the Braves getting two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against them, both coming after sacks on third down plays.

“We had to remember how coach always tells us to touch our temple and keep our head,” said Harness, who had three total tackles. “We are going to always go through adversity. We kept saying fight, fight, fight. We knew the significance of this game especially going into the bye week.”

Alcorn’s leading receiver Jaborian McKenzie (knee) and quarterback Lenorris Footman (shoulder) were both injured in the third quarter. Neither returned to the game, but will have some extra time to get healthy as the Braves have an open date next week. Alcorn’s next game is at home against Southern University on Oct. 29.

Footman was 17-of-24 passing for 196 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions before exiting. McKenzie caught six passes for 42 yards.

“That injury bug is still hanging around us. We’ll see what’s really happening with everyone when the trainers get a good look at them tomorrow,” McNair said. “McKenzie went down with a knee and Footman is feeling funny in his shoulder. Had a couple of guys come back this week from injury, they played and gave us some depth. We are going to use this bye week to get them back healthy.”

Alcorn answered the Tigers’ first touchdown with a 21-yard pass from Footman to Norlando Veals that tied the game at 7 with 7:54 left in the first quarter. Later on, Veals caught a 32-yard pass from Footman with 27 seconds remaining in the half to give Alcorn a 17-14 lead.

In between those two scoring drives, Haiden McCraney kicked a 39-yard field.
Texas Southern quarterback Averion Hurts threw a 39-yard pass to Austin Watts for the game’s first touchdown, with 10:34 left in the first quarter. Hurts ran three yards for the Tigers’ second touchdown of the game, with 5:49 left in the first quarter.

Medina kicked his first field goal for 48 yards with 7:24 in the third to tie the game at 17.

Neals finished with six catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns for Alcorn (3-3, 3-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference). The Braves won their second game in a row after suffering through a three-game losing streak in September.