Alcorn State’s late night ends with last-minute loss to Stephen F. Austin

Published 10:54 am Sunday, September 4, 2022

LORMAN — The first edition of Lorman After Dark was not nearly as fun as it sounds for Alcorn State.

Moe Wedman caught an 11-yard touchdown pass with 2:22 remaining to cap Stephen F. Austin’s big second-half comeback, and the Lumberjacks defeated Alcorn State 31-27 on Saturday night.

Stephen F. Austin, ranked No. 10 in the Football Championship Subdivision, outscored Alcorn 21-3 in the second half.

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“I felt that the team came out and played a tremendous first half. The defense was fast to the ball and the offense was executing,” Alcorn coach Fred McNair said. “The second half we came out flat, gave up some big plays, and the offense didn’t execute as well as it should have.”

The start of the game was delayed more than three hours because of weather, and finished at 12:17 a.m.
The Braves seemed to handle the delay well, however. Their first possession of the season ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Allen to Juan Anthony, Jr.

Allen added a 46-yard TD pass to Malik Rogers in the second quarter, and Jarveon Howard broke off a 73-yard TD run with 28 seconds left to give Alcorn a 24-10 lead at halftime.

“We just made the adjustment. The guys were loose in the locker room,” McNair said of waiting out the long delay. “We let them be free to listen to music, we had snacks in the locker room for them, and they got fueled up. A lot of chocolate will do that to you.”

The sugar high quickly wore off after halftime.

Stephen F. Austin scored two touchdowns in less than 90 seconds, on a 33-yard pass from Trae Self to Lawton Rikel and a 20-yard run by Jerrell Wimbley, to tie the game at 24 with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter.

The Braves regained the lead on a 23-yard field goal by Noah Kiani midway through the fourth quarter, before Self led SFA on its game-winning drive. The Lumberjacks went 52 yards in nine plays, over the course of five minutes. Self only threw two passes — a 14-yard completion on third-and-nine, and the 11-yard touchdown to Wedman with 2:22 remaining.

Self finished the game 18-of-30 passing for 228 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“We came out a little flat in the second half and gave up some plays that we wish we could have back. Make them work for it. Just don’t give up the big one,” McNair said.

Alcorn got the ball twice in the last two-plus minutes, but one possession ended with an interception and the other at its own 15-yard line as time expired.

The final stats were a mix of good and bad for the Braves. Allen finished with two touchdown passes in his first start, but was just 12-of-26 for 159 yards and had one interception. Howard had 199 rushing yards and the team had 290.

Alcorn had 316 yards of offense in the first half, and then only 143 in the second half. The drive that ended with Kiani’s field goal covered 93 yards, and the other five second-half possessions netted a total of 50 yards.

“I think the tempo of the offense really got to them in the first half. The thing was, we can’t have three-and-outs, we can’t get behind the chains like we did in the second half,” McNair said. “Getting behind the chains made us a little different. We couldn’t go fast like we did in the first half. We have to keep the tempo going.”