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Back up players showing first-string potential in Alcorn Spring Game

brittney lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat Alcorn State University defensive back Devon Francois attempts to tackle quarterback John Gibbs Jr. in the first half of the school’s spring game Saturday afternoon.
brittney lohmiller | The Natchez Democrat
Alcorn State University defensive back Devon Francois attempts to tackle quarterback John Gibbs Jr. in the first half of the school’s spring game Saturday afternoon.

Lorman — The 2014 Purple and Gold Spring game at Alcorn State University was a success said head coach Jay Hopson as the Purple Team came out on top with a 21-16 win.

Hopson said the game is all in good fun, and it’s for him to see who is doing well and what needs improvement.

More than anything for the players, the winner gets bragging rights for the rest of the school year, but some get just a little more than the right to trash talk.

Gold Team quarterback John Gibbs Jr., lost a casual bet with Purple Team quarterback Lenorris Footman over the game.

Footman didn’t leave the game empty handed, as Gibbs had to give Footman a serving of chicken strips for the loss.

“Last year I won during the Spring Game and I got the chicken strips,” Gibbs said. “But Lenorris played really well.”

Hopson said he was pleased to see Footman excel in game-mode action.

“He settled down after the first drive or two,” Hopson said. The Purple Team went four and out in its first two drives.

“I was pretty pleased with his second quarter and second half. We still have a lot of things we have to clean up.”

As much as Gibbs said he hated to lose, he was happy to see his teammates on the Purple Team make a comeback after trailing 9-0 with 5:28 left in the first quarter.

The Purple Team finally got on the scoreboard with 38 seconds left in the first quarter on a two-yard rush from Alondrea Young.

The Purple Team took the lead early in the second quarter when they recovered a fumble that gave Purple the ball on their 21-yard line.

Footman took advantage of the possession with a touchdown pass to Billy Shed to take a 14-9 lead.

The lead jumped back and forth from there, but Gibbs’ second thrown interception on the first play of the third quarter which resulted in a 25-yard touchdown return sealed the deal for the Purple team 21-16.

Hopson said he felt the scrimmage went well.

“I thought it was a pretty clean scrimmage,” Hopson said. “We try to split (the teams) up pretty even. We’re getting better because we started late, but as a whole, it was pretty good.

With Gibbs on the Gold Team, Hopson put starting running back Anthony Williams III on the Purple Team to make a competitive offensive game.

But it ended up being Gold Team running back Aaron Baker who caught Hopson’s eyes.

“I thought he ran the ball well (Saturday),” Hopson said.

Gibbs said he was excited to see Baker step up, knowing the Braves lost running back Arnold Walker to graduation.

Gibbs said the defensive lines on both teams stood out to him a lot as he and Footman were sacked several times.

“Both sides were making plays, so when you put them all together next season, they’re going to be tremendous,” Gibbs said.

Hopson said it was hard for him to be mad at the offense for its turnovers when he also must applaud the defense for causing said turnovers.

Gibbs said the Braves would go back to business Monday to watch film and receive grades on their performance.

The Braves are also looking forward to riding their successful 2013 season, which featured a 9-3 record, into the fall, and with a better advantage.

The Braves will play rivals Jackson State University, Southern University and Alabama State University at home, and Gibbs said he couldn’t wait to play those teams at the Reservation.

The Braves beat Southern and Jackson State on the road last season in close bouts.

“Our goal is to win every home game,” Gibbs said. “The fact that those games are against rivals is better with the crowd behind us. We know it’s tough to go into their back yard and beat them like we did last year, so I know they’re going to try to come here and return the favor.”

The Braves’ season starts Sept. 30 against Virginia University at Lynchburg in Lorman.





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