Missed field goal, fumble in closing minutes gives Alcorn loss
LORMAN — First-and-goal from the 2-yard line looked like an easy go-ahead touchdown for Alcorn State University Saturday evening.
Trailing 19-18 to Alabama A&M with less than four minutes to go, the Braves had already put together a 13-play drive to get inside the red zone from their own 19, a drive that began at the 9:26 mark in the fourth. A couple of pass interference penalties helped set up the Braves for what many thought would be a quick punch into the end zone.
But Alcorn was dropped for a loss on first and second down, and an incomplete pass on third down set up a 22-yard field goal attempt. Kicker Haiden McCraney, who earlier made a 45-yard field goal, missed the kick, giving Alabama A&M the ball with 2:38 left.
Alcorn forced a punt with just more than a minute remaining, but a fumble by return man Tavoris Doss on the Bulldogs’ 45-yard line allowed Alabama A&M to recover the ball, ending any potential scoring threat by the Braves and securing Alabama A&M’s 19-18 victory.
“It’s tough and heartbreaking,” Braves head coach Jay Hopson said. “We had our chances, and that’s football. You just have to make the most of it when you get those chances.”
Alcorn scored first on a safety with 4:36 remaining in the first quarter when Terrence Green tackled Barrington Scott in the end zone. The Braves added a touchdown after the ensuing kickoff, scoring on a seven-play, 60-yard drive that was capped off by a 7-yard pass from John Gibbs to Jordan Payne with two minutes remaining in the first.
The Braves forced a fumble on the next Bulldogs possession on the Alabama A&M 47-yard, setting up another scoring drive for Alcorn. Joe Price punched it in for Alcorn from the 1-yard line with 14:11 remaining, but a missed extra point meant Alcorn only led 15-0.
After that, however, Alcorn managed just a field goal the rest of the way as the Bulldogs began their comeback. Alabama A&M finally got on the board with 12:22 left in the second on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Jaymason Lee to Jonathan Dorsey, making it 15-7 Alcorn.
Alabama A&M scored again on a 10-yard pass from Lee to Toriono Upshaw with 4:07 remaining, but the two-point run attempt failed, leaving the score 15-13 Alcorn. The Braves added three points before the half when McCraney hit his 45-yard field goal with 2:58 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs finally went ahead for good with 4:23 left in the third after Lee connected with Dorsey again from 34 yards out. The two-point run attempt failed again, and the Bulldogs took a 19-18 lead.
The scoring drive for the Bulldogs was aided by two long passes, one for 36 yards and the other for the 34-yard score. Hopson said he was pleased with his team’s defense in the second half, minus the one drive.
“They threw two circus passes up there,” Hopson said. “They threw a blooper and the guy caught it, and they threw another blooper in the end zone and we were all over it. I don’t know how we didn’t intercept it. It went through our hands and into their guy’s hands for the touchdown. Like I said, we had some missed opportunities.”
The Braves tallied 143 yards on the ground, and Arnold Walker got 109 of those on 27 carries. Alcorn also managed 204 yards through the air, with Gibson throwing all but two of the Braves’ passes. He was 18 for 30 with 171 yards and a touchdown.
Alcorn (7-3, 5-2) will host Prairie View A&M at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.