Alcorn State University running back Arnold Walker tries to break the tackles of Mississippi Valley State University players at Dwight Fisher Field Saturday. (Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat)
Alcorn State University running back Arnold Walker tries to break the tackles of Mississippi Valley State University players at Dwight Fisher Field Saturday. (Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat)

Alcorn rallies against Mississippi Valley in fourth quarter, 35-28

Published 12:01am Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lorman — Alcorn State (2-1) welcomed Mississippi Valley State (0-3) to The Reservation for the Southwestern Athletic Conference opener Saturday and shut them down with a dynamic performance in the second half to rally back and win the game 35-28.

Alcorn State head coach Jay Hopson said he was pleased with his team’s perseverance to come out victorious.

“It was a good win,” he said. “I was very proud of our second half recovery. I thought we came back and fought hard.”

Alcorn quarterback John Gibbs went 18 for 26 passing with two touchdowns and ran for eight yards with one touchdown. Anthony Walker added 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Braves.

The Braves offense started off slow, but the defense picked up the slack with an interception by Terrence Green just five minutes into the game.

Green’s interception put the Braves in good field position at the 21-yard line before John Gibbs rushed one yard for a touchdown. Haiden McCraney’s extra-point kick was good to give Alcorn an early 7-0 lead.

But MVSU was just warming up their passing game as Patrick Ivy made a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Dabney at the 3:02 mark.  Cherchen Galon’s extra-point kick was good to even the score at seven in the first quarter.

The Delta Devils continued their offensive presence in the second quarter when Ivy threw another touchdown pass for 28 yards to Patrick Durr at the 13:09 mark.

Alcorn put themselves in bad position with less than two minutes left in the half when McCraney received a low snap for a punt and kneeled down to catch it. Officials called the ball down at the 15-yard line where McCraney stood, and MVSU took over in the red zone.

A minute later, Marcus Reed rushed in for a 13-yard touchdown to put MVSU up 21-7 at the half.

Alcorn came out of the locker room swinging with explosive offense before Gibbs threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Payne. The extra point was no good as the Braves got themselves within 8 with 11:15 to go in the third.

On the kickoff, Alcorn tried to recover an onside kick, but officials waved off the Braves recovery to give MVSU the possession as penalties yards positioned the Delta Devils at the Braves’ 31-yard line.

Hopson was not happy with the call and he showed it as he threw his head gear on the field and gave the officials an ear full.

Hopson’s rant got his players and fans fired up as their defense and multiple penalties pushed MVSU back to their own 38-yard line before punting.

It seemed the Hopson’s energy only impacted the defense, as they didn’t allow the Devils to score in the third. But Alcorn couldn’t get in the end zone either as the score remained 21-13 at the end of the third quarter.

The Braves completely transformed their offense in the forth quarter with three touchdowns.

Hopson said he was proud of the way his team fought back in the second half.

“The kids played with some emotion and started executing and that’s what it’s all about,” Hopson said. “They started playing assignment football, which is something they didn’t do in the first half.”

At the 12:08 mark of the fourth quarter, Alcorn’s Terrence Green forced his second turnover when he recovered   the Devils’ Cortez Frizell’s fumble at the MVSU 17-yard line.

Alcorn finally generated some offense with a five-yard drive from Arnold Walker with 11:21 to play. Alcorn went for the tie with a two-point conversion and succeeded on a pass from Gibbs to Tavoris Doss to even the score at 21.

Alcorn didn’t risk giving the Delta Devils a chance to score as they attempted an onside kick and Anthony Williams Jr., recovered it to give Alcorn the possession.

At the 8:34 mark, Gibbs threw a 22-yard pass to LaDarrien David for the lead with the extra point kick good to lead MVSU 28-21.

Walker made his way back into the end zone for his second touchdown with a 26 yard run. The extra point kick gave Alcorn a 14-point lead with 6 minutes to play.

MSVU scored for the first time since the first half when Jerrell Morris caught a 4-yard pass from Ivy to end the game 35-28.

Hopson said Gibbs and Walker withstood the Delta Devils’ defensive pressure and really pulled through to lead the Braves to victory Saturday.

“We ran the ball well in the second half,” Hopson said. “John (Gibbs) settled down and made some good throws, and I was proud of the perseverance and proud of the fight.”

Alcorn State continues their conference season Saturday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.