Alcorn uses high-octane offense to get 57-0 victory against Warner
The Vicksburg Post
LORMAN — The ROTC squad manning the cannon were probably wondering if they’d run out of gunpowder before the end of Saturday’s homecoming game for Alcorn State.
Against undermanned NAIA startup program Warner University (Fla.), that wasn’t a problem for the Braves as they stormed to a 57-0 victory.
The Braves scored on their first three drives, running up 312 yards in the first half. Quarterback John Gibbs Jr. hit Jordan Payne for a 28-yard TD strike and Tavoris Doss with a 9-yard scoring pass. Haiden McCraney hit a 27-yard field goal to cap the Braves’ third drive.
The big victory gives the Braves (4-2, 2-1 SWAC) a momentum boost going into Saturday’s game in Indianapolis in the Circle City Classic against Grambling.
“We really played well in the first half, but there are some things we need to clean up,” Alcorn coach Jay Hopson said. “You’re always searching for perfection, but I’m pleased with the effort. We played a lot of guys, which is critical because we’re in an important phase of the season where we have to build some depth. The quality of depth we can build going into the second half of the season is going to be critical.”
The defense played its best game of the season in the shutout. It held the Royals to 65 yards and scored twice, first on a first-quarter 50-yard interception return by cornerback Jordan Jenkins and the other on a safety on a snap into the end zone in the third.
After Gibbs found LaDarrien Davis for a 37-yard hookup, Arnold Walker took the handoff 2 yards to paydirt. On the PAT, the Braves faked the kick and holder Tollete George rolled out and found former Warren Central tight end Patrick Varnado for the two-point conversion to put the Braves up 31-0 at the half.
Gibbs completed 14-of-18 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns and rushed twice for 39 yards. He sat out the second half as the Braves began to substitute liberally.
“It was definitely fun watching my teammates play,” Gibbs said. “No matter who was playing on offense, we kept the same drive and the same momentum.”
In the second half, the Braves picked up where they left off. Doss returned the punt after a three-and-out by Warner 70 yards down to the 10. Walker scored on the next play on a zone-read play. He finished with 111 on 15 carries.
The closest Warner came to scoring was late in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Zerick Rollins was intercepted by linebacker Oscar McGee and he returned it down to the Alcorn 30. But the Royals (0-6) missed a 43-yard field goal.
George led all receivers with 103 yards on seven catches.
Rollins rebounded on the ensuing possession, hitting Orlando Ward for an 60-yard scoring strike on a streak pattern.
Third-string quarterback T.J. Menning hit Jordan Payne for a 20-yard scoring strike and McCraney hit a 30-yard field goal to complete the scoring for the Braves.