Alcorn State University player Arnold Walker carries the ball during a game against Edward Waters College at Alcorn State University Saturday. Alcorn won, 63-12. (Eli Baylis | The Vicksburg Post)
Alcorn State University player Arnold Walker carries the ball during a game against Edward Waters College at Alcorn State University Saturday. Alcorn won, 63-12. (Eli Baylis | The Vicksburg Post)

Alcorn opens season with 63-12 victory vs. Edward Waters

Published 12:09am Sunday, September 1, 2013

By Ernest Bowker

The Vicksburg Post

LORMAN — It was a perfect opening day on The Reservation.

Alcorn State scored on each of its six first-half possessions, Arnold Walker rushed for three touchdowns, and the Braves kicked off the 2013 season by stomping Edward Waters 63-12 Saturday afternoon.

Alcorn quarterback John Gibbs completed 15 of 20 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a score. Running backs Walker, Joe Price and Anthony Williams III combined to carry the ball 34 times for 179 yards and five touchdowns, while the defense forced four turnovers and didn’t allow Edward Waters to reach the end zone.

“That’s like a coach’s dream,” Alcorn coach Jay Hopson said. “You love those games, when it’s just all going pretty smooth and you’re clicking on all cylinders. I was proud of the guys. They executed really well today.”

Alcorn stormed out of the gate and never let up. Gibbs tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Tavoris Doss on the opening drive, then Walker scored on a pair of short runs to make it 21-6 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second, the Braves turned it into a full-fledged rout. Gibbs went straight up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown run on fourth down, then Alcorn scored three touchdowns in the last 2 minutes and 10 seconds. After Anthony Williams III capped a 17-play drive with a 4-yard TD run, Jestin Williams returned an interception to the Edward Waters 12.

Walker sprinted into the end zone two plays later to make it 42-6. On the next play from scrimmage, Kenry Tolbert scooped up a fumble and returned it 22 yards to the end zone for a 49-6 lead with 40 seconds left in the half.

Alcorn’s first-half point total surpassed its highest mark all of last season, and was the most it had scored in a game since beating Concordia College 58-16 on Oct. 22, 2011. The Braves surpassed the 58-point mark on a 12-yard TD run by Khaderal Hodge in the fourth quarter.

Alcorn outgained Edward Waters 327-93 in the first half.

“We executed well, defensively and offensively. We had a good gameplan,” Hopson said

If Alcorn made any missteps, it was on special teams. A muffed punt led to a first-quarter field goal by Edward Waters, and a 42-yard kickoff return by Ray Dukes set up another. Dukes’ return came after he collided with a teammate, the ball fell to the turf, and he snatched it up before breaking out of the pack and making it all the way to Alcorn’s 34-yard line.

Both times, however, the Braves’ defense stiffened. They only gave up five first downs in the first half, and also forced five turnovers. All of the Tigers’ scoring came on field goals by Jerry Martin. He converted from 42, 27, 31 and 27 yards.

“Our word for the day was execution,” said linebacker William Thomas, who had a team-high 5 1/2 tackles. “With a triple option team, you can’t make too many mistakes or it’s going to be a big play. The whole game, preparing, we just based our mind on executing. If everybody played their assignment and watched their gap we were going to have a good game.”