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Alcorn set to host Prairie View A&M

LORMAN — The season is not over for Alcorn State, even if the Braves are no longer in contention for the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship.

Head coach Jay Hopson said last week’s 19-18 loss to Alabama A&M, which eliminated the Braves from a shot at the SWAC title game, will not stop the team from playing every game like it’s the championship.

“It’s like boxing: All we’re focused on is getting the next opponent in the ring,” he said. “We’re excited to play (tonight) against Prairie View A&M.”

Last week’s performance against Alabama A&M was hard to watch for Braves (7-3, 5-2) fans as they suffered their first home loss of the season.

Special teams played a part in the loss, with a missed field goal in the final minutes that would’ve won the game. The week before, against Southern University, the Braves almost lost a 17-point deficit after two blocked punts.

Hopson said special teams is something they will have to get sorted out if they want to beat Prairie View (5-4, 4-3).

“It wasn’t blocked punts, but we still had big errors on special teams,” he said. “I thought we played hard. We came back in the fourth quarter, but we missed a key field goal, and sometimes things don’t go your way.”

Despite the Braves’ recent woes, quarterback John Gibbs, running back Arnold Walker and wide receiver Jordan Payne all had career nights.

Gibbs reached the 2,000 mark in passing yards after completing 18 of 30 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown. Walker carried the ball 27 times for 109 yards. Walker is only 64 yards from breaking Augustus Lee’s all-time career rushing record. Payne caught his eighth touchdown of the season. He is now tied for first in the SWAC in receiving touchdowns.

The Braves are going against a Prairie View team that ranks first in the SWAC in scoring offense, total offense and passing offense, so the Braves must play solid defense, with Payne having another career night.

Hopson said he’s looking for more players to step up and have big games as well.

“I thought they played really well, but I don’t think there’s one guy that needs to step up,” Hopson said. “We need to have consistent play from everybody. We have to execute at our level, and we had opportunities to score, and we just didn’t execute.”

The Braves host Prairie View A&M at 7 p.m. today.