Alcorn clinches fifth straight SWAC East Division crown

Published 7:48 pm Saturday, November 17, 2018

LORMAN (AP) — The Braves are still the beasts of the East.

De’Shawn Waller ran for 124 yards and Alcorn State scored 24 unanswered points to beat Jackson State 24-3 on Saturday and clinch a berth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.

With the win, the Braves (8-3, 6-1 SWAC) secured home field advantage in the title game, which will be held at a host school for the first time. Alcorn State is also the first team to play in five consecutive SWAC championship games.

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Alcorn will play either Southern University or Grambling on Dec. 1 at Jack Spinks Stadium.

“Anytime it comes down to me personally and this football program I can never say enough about the guys behind the scenes,” Alcorn head coach Fred McNair said. “These young guys have to put up with me every day at practice. It’s always special when you talk about the SWAC East championship with this being the fifth one in a row. It’s also special to win here at home.”

Noah Johnson was 14-of-20 passing for 177 yards with a touchdown for Alcorn State. P.J. Simmons added 67 rushing yards and a score. Juan Anthony Jr. caught four passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Alcorn improved to 14-2 against SWAC East Division opponents over the last four seasons.

Christian Jacquemin kicked a 44-yard field goal in the first quarter for Jackson State (5-5, 4-3). Corey McCullough’s 46-yarder tied the game 3-3 in the final minute of the first half.

Alcorn got the ball to start the second half and immediately started to pull away.
Simmons capped an eight-play, 72-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Braves ahead for the first time, 10-3, with 11:34 left in the third quarter.

Johnson threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Anthony with 4:07 left in the period to make it 17-3, and Taurence Wilson returned an interception 31 yards for a score midway through the fourth quarter to seal it.

“We came out with our fast tempo and it gave us a chance to do some of the things we couldn’t do in the first half,” McNair said. “We started getting the ball outside to our receivers on the bubble screens. We completed some gashes in the middle and we got into a whole different play scheme then we had in the first half. All I said was close your eyes and think about the second half of the New Mexico State game. I didn’t have to say anything else and they went out and played how they were supposed to.”

Jarrad Hayes was 9-of-17 passing for 103 yards for Jackson State, which could have won the East Division championship with a win. Keshawn Harper ran 11 times for 54 yards.

The Tigers finished with 195 yards of total offense.

“The defense played outstanding. We got some big stops and a pick-six by Wilson,” McNair said. “These guys work hard every day at practice and they deserve this. Everything goes to these young men that are playing the game.”