Alcorn State clinches SWAC East title

Published 12:11 am Sunday, November 13, 2016

ITTA BENA (AP) — Noah Johnson had a historic day, and Alcorn State added to its own rich history on Saturday.

Johnson, Alcorn’s freshman quarterback, set a school record by accounting for eight touchdowns as the Braves blasted Mississippi Valley State 61-7 to clinch the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s East Division championship.

Alcorn (4-5, 4-4 SWAC) clinched the East Division title after Alabama A&M beat Jackson State 27-20. Alcorn closes the regular season at home next week against Jackson State, and then will play either Grambling or Southern in the conference championship game Dec. 3 in Houston.

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It’s Alcorn’s third consecutive East Division title.

“This is what we’ve been trying to put together the whole season. We’ve had a lot of injuries and all that stuff, but this is how we want to play on both sides of the ball,” Alcorn head coach Fred McNair said. “In the past, we had spurts of playing good offense and playing good defense, but it seems like it’s all coming together as a team now.”

Johnson completed 12 of 16 passes for 285 yards and seven touchdowns, three of which went to Norlando Veals. Johnson also rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson threw four touchdown passes in the first half — including one to former Vicksburg High star Tavares Johnson Jr. — and ran for a 23-yard score as Alcorn jumped out to a 41-0 lead at halftime.
Noah Johnson threw three more touchdown passes in the third quarter before giving way to backup Deundre Pickett-White.

“That’s one of the things we talked about all week. We wanted to start fast and then stay on them, and that’s what we did,” McNair said. “We prepared ourselves at practice every day to play this way. The guys had a great week of practice.”

Alcorn finished with 538 yards of total offense. Veals caught four passes for 182 yards, Tavares Johnson caught three passes for 42 yards and one touchdown, and three other players caught a TD pass.

De’Lance Turner rushed for a career-high 96 yards on 12 carries.

Mississippi Valley State (1-9, 1-7) used three quarterbacks who combined to throw for 139 yards and three interceptions, and were sacked three times. One of the picks was returned 64 yards for a touchdown by Alcorn’s Javen Morrison.

Valley (1-9, 1-7) only had 33 rushing yards as a team.

Valley avoided a shutout when Thurston Rubin threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Booker Chambers with 1:33 left in the game.

Alabama A&M 27, JSU 20

De’Angelo Ballard passed for 143 yards and a touchdown, and piled up 155 more yards rushing to lead Alabama A&M over Jackson State.

Alabama A&M (4-6, 4-5 SWAC) rallied after falling behind 17-0 in the first half. A 5-yard touchdown run by Harvey Harris put the Bulldogs ahead to stay..

Jackson State (3-7, 3-5) got a 63-yard TD run from Joshua Bates and a 1-yard TD throw from Jarin Morikawa to Javancy Jones. Christian Jacquemin had two field goals.