Thomas’ future up in the air as Braves fall to JSU
JACKSON — There was no miracle comeback in this year’s Capital City Classic.
The Jackson State Tigers (7-4, 7-2) shut down Alcorn State (2-8, 2-7), 31-19 at Jackson’s Veteran Memorial Stadium.
The Braves jumped out early on JSU when quarterback Tony Hobson led a 65-yard drive that was capped off by a 29-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Arceneaux.
After a big defensive hold on fourth and one by the Braves, the offense again found some rhythm moving the ball going down to the 17 before Hobson fumbled a bad snap that was recovered by JSU.
“It was just some miscommunication between me and the center,” Hobson said. “I felt like It was the turning point In the game. It gave Jackson State the momentum.”
JSU used that momentum to march 83 yards to take a 7-6 lead on a Lavarius Giles 1-yard run.
“I felt like we came out and played very well on offense to start with,” Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas said. “It just went downhill after the fumble.”
The Alcorn defense kept the game by holding JSU to just a field goal to go into the half down 10-6.
“You have to give credit to Alcorn,” JSU head coach Rick Comegy said. “They came in fired up and ready to play. We knew we had to fight to the end.”
JSU quarterback Jimmy Oliver settled down in the third quarter. He was able to use his legs to scramble for a first down that set up a 35-yard pass to Jaymar Johnson to give the Tigers a 17-6 lead.
“We didn’t execute,” Alcorn linbacker Antonio Cooper said. “We let their quarterback get out too much. He did what he’s done all year, make plays.”
The final nail into Alcorn’s coffin came in the fourth quarter. The Braves failed on a fake field goal attempt and turned the ball over to JSU.
On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, Giles broke off an 82-yard run that went for a touchdown and put the game out of reach.
“I knew they couldn’t tackle,” Giles said. “They may bump you some but can’t open-field tackle.”
With the win, JSU clinches the SWAC Eastern Division championship and a date with Western Division champ Grambling on Dec. 15 in Birmingham for the SWAC title.
The loss for Alcorn brings more questions of Thomas’ future as the Braves head coach.
“The rumors of coach Thomas not being here next year has always been on our minds,” Arceneaux said. “We just have to wait and see about the future.”
Thomas said this season was like the twilight zone.
“This has been an unusual season,” he said. “So many things have happened that were out of anyone’s control.”
As for his future with Alcorn, Thomas declined to comment. He said he was here to talk about the game with JSU and nothing else.
“I’m not going to talk about my future here,” he said. “We’ll talk about that when it comes around.”
Thomas said every program and coach go through down years and this was just one of them.
“We’ve had six winning seasons,” he said. “Everyone goes through them (bad times). I feel as a coach, we’ve done some things that are remarkable.”