Southern runs past Alcorn State

Published 8:35 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016

LORMAN — A turnover filled game spelled disaster for Alcorn State, which fell behind early and never quite gained its footing in the 41-33 loss to Southern University.

Lenard Tillery ran for 195 yards and three touchdowns as Southern scored 21 straight points in the second and third quarters to take control

“I thought the first quarter was pretty good,” Alcorn State coach Fred McNair said. “We came out fast, playing, scoring. Then in the second we kind of slowed down. We fought in the second half, we just had some turnovers that gave us problems.”

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Alcornquarterback Lenorris Footman had one of the best and worst performances of his career. Footman completed 25 of 44 passes for a career-high 300 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 146 yards and three scores.

He also threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles.

The loss ended a two-game winning streak for the Braves before the team hits the road for the next two weeks in a row. Alcorn (3-4, 3-3 Southwestern Athletic Conference) takes on Prairie View A&M next Saturday.

“At the end of the day 300 yards doesn’t matter if you don’t get the win,” Footman said. “It’s a good achievement but winning the game would have been better.”

As for Southern (5-2, 5-0), running back Lenard Tillery had a standout game. His 195 yards made him the SWAC’s all-time leading rusher. He was only one yard short of matching his career high. He scored on runs of 12, 63 and 22 yards.

“When you don’t tackle you can’t have the best possible game,” McNair said of his team’s trouble stopping Tillery.

Alcorn’s turnovers, along with nine penalties for 63 yards, made the difference. Southern was penalized five times for 43 yards.

McNair was discouraged by some of the calls made by referees, especially a block in the back call on his defense. What upset him the most was when he felt the refs could not explain the calls they made.

“I don’t know half of what they call sometimes. They can’t even tell me what they’re calling. That’s the biggest disappointing thing,” McNair said. “It’s kind of disappointing that you’ve got a football team playing football and you let these stripes determine the outcome of the football game instead of the players on the football field.”

The game started on the wrong foot when Footman fumbled on Alcorn’s opening drive. Southern got the ball on its own 30-yard line, and just four plays later Southern got its first points on the board on a 12-yard run by Tillery.

Footman answered on the next drive with a 21-yard touchdown run, but a failed extra point kept Alcorn behind 7-6.

The Braves briefly gained the lead with 2:25 left in the first quarter on a four play, 70-yard drive that ended in a 34-yard pass from Footman to Norlando Veals.

Footman threw his first interception on the second play of the second quarter, but Southern didn’t go anywhere with the gift. After that, Southern started to take control.

Austin Howard threw two touchdown passes — one for 33 yards to Curtlan Williams and another for 10 yards to Dillon Beard — to give the Jaguars a 24-13 lead at halftime. On the third play of the third quarter, Tillery broke off a 63-yard touchdown run to make it 31-13.

After Southern turned it over on downs at the Alcorn 17, Footman broke an 83-yard touchdown run to cut it to 31-20 and give the Braves some energy. They didn’t sustain it, though. Southern drove 62 yards in seven plays, finishing it with a 22-yard touchdown run by Tillery to push the lead back to 38-20 with 7:02 left in the third quarter.

“It gave us momentum, but we needed to be able to keep it going,” Footman said of his long touchdownr un.

In the fourth quarter Footman ran 3 yards for a touchdown with 13:09 left, but a blocked extra point kept the score at 38-26. The Braves’ next two drives ended in turnovers, however, and Southern tacked on a 47-yard field goal by Ruan Albuquerque to maintain a two-score lead.

Alcorn’s last touchdown was a 23-yard pass from Footman to Raidarious Anderson with only 35 seconds left. Southern recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

“We just tried to keep ourselves in the game,” Footman said. “We got down but we can’t give up, we always have to fight back.”