Mississippi football roundup: Alcorn edges JSU; Delta State rolls, Belhaven steamrolled in playoff openers
Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 19, 2023
JACKSON — Alcorn State won the Soul Bowl and a share of the Southwestern Athletic Conference West Division championship, but still walked away empty-handed.
Aaron Allen threw three touchdown passes, two to Monterio Hunt, and Alcorn State beat archrival Jackson State 28-24 on Saturday.
The Braves (7-4, 6-2 SWAC) tied Prairie View A&M for the division title, but Prairie View won the head-to-head matchup and advanced to play Florida A&M for the SWAC championship on Dec. 2.
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Prairie View beat Alabama State 21-14 on Saturday to clinch the West Division title.
Alcorn State never trailed against JSU, but the score was tied at 21 before Allen and Malik Rodgers connected for a 12-yard touchdown with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
Jackson State made the difficult decision to kick a field goal after reaching the red zone and Dylan Wasson’s 35-yarder made the score 28-24 with 7:12 left in the fourth.
The Tigers did not cross midfield the rest of the game. Their next possession resulted in a punt from deep in their own territory, and the final one was a disaster on several fronts.
The Tigers had the ball at midfield with about 2 1/2 minutes left after Ezequiel Johnson broke a 42-yard run. The next two snaps both resulted in holding penalties to create a first-and-30 situation, and the next three plays were all short gains.
On fourth-and-17 from the JSU 43, quarterback Jason Brown threw an incomplete pass for a turnover on downs with 34 seconds to go.
Allen was 16-of-24 passing for 225 yards, with touchdowns of 55 and 33 yards to Hunt in addition to the one to Rodgers. The two touchdowns were Hunt’s only catches. Rodgers caught four passes for 68 yards.
Jarveon Howard had 70 rushing yards, including a 1-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Jackson State (7-4, 5-3) led 431-296 in total yards. Jacobian Morgan was 11-of-16 passing for 151 yards. He threw two TD passes to Fabian McCray, who caught six passes for 109 yards. DJ Stevens also caught a TD pass from Morgan.
Brown also played well at quarterback, completing 11 of 18 passes for 86 yards.
Delta State 49, West Florida 14
Patrick Shegog threw five touchdown passes in the first half, and Delta State (10-1) crushed West Florida (8-4) in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs on Saturday.
Shegog completed 19 of 25 passes for 318 yards and six touchdowns. Jaylen Green caught six passes for 105 yards and one TD, while Katerian LaGrone had two touchdown receptions.
Shegog’s 37-yard touchdown to Green on the final play of the first half put Delta State ahead 35-0.
Freddrick Hervey had a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter as well.
Delta State advanced to the second round and will host Gulf South Conference rival Valdosta State on Nov. 25. The start time will be announced Monday.
North Central (Ill.) 65, Belhaven 0
Belhaven had a memorable season with a finish it’ll want to forget forever.
Luke Lehnen threw three touchdown passes, and top-seeded North Central (Illinois) rushed for 433 yards as a team as it blasted Belhaven in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Belhaven only had 125 yards of total offense. Running back Kolbe Blunt had 67 rushing yards on 19 carries, and quarterback Tim Johnson was 9-of-17 passing for just 50 yards.
North Central (11-0), the defending national champion, scored at least 60 points for the third game in a row and has not scored less than 49 in any game this season. It has only been held under 50 twice.
The Cardinals advanced to play Trinity University (Texas) in the second round next week.
Belhaven (9-2) set a school record for wins this season. It also earned its first USA South conference championship and first bid to the Division III playoffs.