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Jackson State blows out Alcorn

Jackson State’s Marcellos Wilder tries to get around Alcorn’s Zavier Johnson, left, and Robert Gainwell during the Capital City Classic game Saturday afternoon in Jackson. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

JACKSON — The 2011 Capital City Classic turned out to be a completely one-sided game at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Jackson Saturday afternoon.

The Alcorn State Braves were on the wrong end of a record-breaking performance by Jackson State quarterback Casey Therriault. Therriault threw for 539 yards and four touchdowns en route to breaking the single-season record for passing yards and total yards at Jackson State. The explosive Tigers’ passing attack and a suffocating defense led to a 51-7 victory over Alcorn State.

“Therriault went to work tonight,” Alcorn State head coach Melvin Spears said. “This is an outstanding team, one of the best in the nation, and we have nothing to hang our heads about.”

Jackson State (9-2, 7-2) ended the game with 687 yards of total offense to Alcorn’s 209.

Former Natchez High School standout Rico Richardson was one of Therriault’s main targets Saturday. Richardson caught three passes for 149 yards and one touchdown. He also scored a touchdown on special teams when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.

Despite a tough season that saw the Braves finish with a record of 2-8 overall and 1-8 in SWAC play, Spears said he did see positives in the season and in the loss to Jackson State. Spears said the Braves brought in 32 freshmen this season, some who gained quality playing experience and can help the team next year.

“The only good thing about freshmen is they are going to be sophomores,” he said. “(It’s going to take) work, work, work. “That’s the Alcorn way. And we have to keep bringing in great players.”

Spears said he fully expects to be back next season to coach the Braves despite a vow by Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown Monday to make cuts to athletics due to losses in revenue.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The bottom line is, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s a process, and we just have to keep working.”

The lone bright spot for Alcorn was the performance of running back Arnold Walker. Walker rushed for 102 yards and the Braves’ lone touchdown.

Jackson State jumped out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter of play. A 27-yard touchdown pass from Casey Therriault to Marcellos Wilder gave the Tigers their first score with 6:13 to play in the first quarter. Five minutes later Rakeem Sims found the end zone on a 9-yard run.

Jackson State continued its onslaught in the second quarter with a 32-yard field goal by Smith to make the score 17-0. Then Richardson made a big play when he scooped up a blocked Alcorn punt in the end zone. The Smith extra point made the score 24-0 with 6:53 left to play in the half.

Richardson got his name called again before the half ended when he caught an 87-yard pass from Therriault to extend Jackson State’s lead to 31 points.

Jackson State threatened to score once more before the half ended, but Alcorn’s Desmond Stevenson intercepted a deep pass from Therriault in the end zone to end the Tigers final scoring opportunity of the half. The Tigers gained 428 yards on offense in the half, and Therriault threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns through 30 minutes of play.

Alcorn got on the board early in the second half with a 1-yard touchdown run by Arnold Walker. Arturo Tamayo added the point after, and the Braves trailed 31-7 with 9:21 left in the third quarter.

The Tigers answered Alcorn’s touchdown with 2:28 left in the third quarter when Therriault found Renty Rollins for a 5-yard touchdown strike to bring the score to 38-7.

Jackson State pushed the score to 44-7 with a 2-yard touchdown run by B.J. Lee early in the fourth quarter. The two-point try on a fake extra point failed. The Tigers tacked on seven more points with 6:47 to go in the game with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Therriault to E.J. Drewery.

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