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Alcorn focuses on Valley without McKenzie

Lorman — The Alcorn State Braves have been through a lot of ups and downs this week.

They’ve gained and lost ex-Vanderbilt player Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie in a two-week span with no word of his return.

McKenzie, 19, and three other former Vanderbilt players are charged with raping an unconscious Vanderbilt student at a campus dormitory in June. The four were dismissed from the university June 29.

McKenzie joined the Braves team in time for last week’s televised game against Mississippi State where he returned three kickoffs for 80 yards.

Alcorn head coach Jay Hopson said it is unfortunate to not have McKenzie in a Braves jersey against Mississippi Valley State (0-2) today.

“We expected him to play (today), but our boys will have to step up and play,” Hopson said.

In regards to if there is any hope to McKenzie getting another chance to play for Alcorn, Hopson said the decision is completely up in the air.

“At the end of the day, that’ll be a decision made from someone above me,” he said.

Despite Alcorn’s roster changes, Hopson said he saw a lot of good things from his team’s 51-7 loss to Mississippi State.

“We had a chance in the first half to stay in the game when it was 14-0, but they converted a couple of third downs,” Hopson said. “In the second half, we went 7-7 against a Bowl team.”

Hopson said the second half showed him a lot of potential.

“I saw some fight from the Alcorn side,” he said. “It would’ve been easy to lay down and give up in the second half.”

Now the Braves are focused on taking care of the Delta Devils at home.

“Every week is a new week, we can’t rest on what we did last week or the week before,” Hopson said. “We have a good game ahead of us, it’s a conference game, and we’re ready to play.”

Hopson said quarterback John Gibbs is looking to redeem himself from a struggling performance against Mississippi State.

“Last week was a little tough for him, but I have to give State credit for that,” he said. “It’s an 11-man game, not a one-man game.”

Hopson said there is no better time to have a break out performance than in the Southwestern Athletic Conference East division opener, but he said everyone must play to their full potential in conference action as Valley is desperate to get their first win of the season.

Hopson said they have to prepare for Valley’s Jeremy Collins and Patrick Ivy at the quarterback position as they both bring different qualities to the table.

“We have to execute and play assignment football,” Hopson said. “We have to prepare for two quarterbacks. One is more versatile and the other is a passer.”

Alcorn will host Mississippi Valley at 2 p.m. today.