Alcorn State edges Grambling with late TD

Published 7:47 pm Saturday, October 20, 2018

Alcorn State wiped out a big deficit, then gave up a big lead Saturday against Grambling.

In the final seconds, it made sure there was no time left to do it all over again.

Noah Johnson found Chris Blair wide open in the end zone with 12 seconds left to give Alcorn a 33-26 victory over Grambling in a rematch of the last three SWAC championship games.

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Alcorn also beat Grambling in Lorman for the first time since 1997.

The fantastic finish came after the Braves (6-2, 4-1 Southwestern Athletic Confgerence) wiped out a 13-0 deficit in the first half, then blew a 10-point lead in the second half.

“That was a tough win,” Alcorn head coach Fred McNair said. “To come back after giving up a 10-point lead is phenomenal. I’m proud of the guys and everything they do. They fight hard every day and should be proud of themselves as well.”

After the teams traded punts in the final five minutes, Grambling was called for interference on a fair catch and Alcorn State started its final drive at the Tigers’ 26 with 1:42 to go.

Alcorn had a personal foul on second down, moving it back 15 yards, before Dayall Harris made a leaping grab at the 3 on third-and-20 to set up the winning score.

On the game-winning play, Johnson rolled out to the right and drew defenders toward him when he found Blair wide open in the end zone for the score.

“Coach McNair knows I always want to make a play so he always tells me if it’s not there then throw it away. I saw Chris run the route and get open and it felt so good,” Johnson said.

Johnson passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns for Alcorn, which scored 23 straight points in a seven-minute span for a 23-13 halftime lead. Javen Morrison’s 23-yard interception return for a touchdown capped the run with 11:16 left in the second quarter.

Grambling came back, however, to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Marc Orozco kicked two field goals of 52 and 40 yards, and quarterback Geremy Hickbottom scored on a 24-yard run.
Orozco’s 40-yard field goal put the Tigers ahead 26-23 with 12:03 left in the game. Alcorn answered with a 46-yard field goal from Corey McCullough to tie it at 26 with 6:41 remaining.

Hickbottom threw for 279 yards with one interception for Grambling (3-4, 2-2). He also ran for 54 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked seven times.

Grambling linebacker De’Arius Christmas, a former Warren Central star, assisted on three tackles.
De’Shawn Waller led Alcorn with 74 rushing yards, and Johnson gained 60 on the ground. Blair caught five passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns.

Alcorn linebacker Terry Whittington totaled 15 tackles, including six for loss and 4 1/2 sacks. He also forced a fumble. Whittington finished one sack short of the single-game school record of five set by Bryant Mix in 1995 against Texas Southern.