Braves’ defense makes big plays in SWAC victory

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

JACKSON &045; It’s a good thing his helmet came off after he made the interception.

Because had it stayed on, no one would have really known how Dwan Wilson would have truly felt.

Granted, his celebration after intercepting a Robert Kent pass in the third quarter was about as obvious as either school’s band Saturday in the annual Capital City Classic between Alcorn and Jackson State.

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It’s always big for anyone on defense to get an interception, mind you. But for linebackers, it’s something special.

&uot;When I got the interception, they tried to take the ball away from me,&uot; said Wilson, who logged his second interception on the season after getting his first one at Fort Valley State. &uot;He pulled my helmet off. I don’t remember what his number was. But I needed to make a play for the team. I was kind of glad my helmet came off.&uot;

The play came at a critical time late in the game when the Braves were trying to finish off Jackson State &045; something no one considered easy playing in Jackson in the Tigers’ final game of a horrendous 2-10 season. Add to the fact that they had playmaker Robert Kent at quarterback, and no one on the defense was thinking they had the game won.

But the Braves were rallying in the third quarter with three touchdowns to take a huge 35-17 lead. The Tigers needed an answer and an answer quick &045; what better way to do it than Kent going to the air.

But Wilson made the grab at the Alcorn 42, and the Alcorn offense responded. Quarterback Donald Carrie broke a 22-yard run up the middle to get to the JSU 36, and Carrie later hit Corvin Johnson on a 33-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 left in the third for a 42-17 lead.

And for all practical purposes, game over.

&uot;That was huge,&uot; Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas said. &uot;We made that play to get the ball back, and we shut down their plays and moved the football. The defense played very, very well, although I thought we could have played better. This is Jackson State &045; you’re not going to come in and run over Jackson. We made some big plays on defense that got the offense going, and then we scored and we won the football game.&uot;

Nothing like the defense to get the offense going, Johnson said.

&uot;It had to,&uot; said Johnson, who caught two touchdown passes in the game. &uot;All game we had to make big plays. My number was called, and I had to step up for the team.&uot;

The play capped a pretty big night for the Alcorn defense as it allowed 311 yards total offense but contained Kent well enough to make him a non-factor of sorts. The Tigers put together an 80-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter that trimmed the lead, but that was erased when the Braves put another score on the board in the fourth quarter when Carrie hit Johnson on a 4-yard touchdown pass for the 49-25 lead.

The Tigers had trouble running the ball, and Kent was sacked three times.

&uot;We came out the first couple of drives and had those things going, then we dropped some balls,&uot; Jackson State head coach James Bell said. &uot;We did this, we did that. We had some drive stoppers, and when you get down, you have to press harder to catch up. And it’s always tough.&uot;

The offense had just one other touchdown in the contest with the third touchdown coming when Jason Lewis intercepted a Carrie pass and ran it 18 yards for a touchdown.

That drive started on the ASU 38 after an 18-yard punt from ASU’s Shane Phillips on a bad snap when the Braves stalled out at their own 20.

Kent his Chris Jones for a 12-yard pass to get down to the 13, and David Kennebrew broke a 13-yard run for a score with 7:20 left in the second to give the Tigers a 10-9 lead.

After that the Tigers missed a field goal and had a drive run out as the first half expired.

&uot;The defensive line did a great job of putting pressure on (Kent),&uot; Wilson said. &uot;He broke (away) a couple of times, but they did a great job on him. It’s a great win. The monkey has been on our backs for a while, and we’re glad to take it off. We’re watching for (Texas Southern) right now. &uot;