Braves rally to stun AM, still in title hunt

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

LORMAN &045; Omega Logan’s eyes were red. He was cramping up after the game.

And he was probably awfully sore when he reached for today’s paper.

All that stuff, however, is probably secondary right now. After Logan and the rest of group of Alcorn State seniors led a chant on the giant &uot;A&uot; on the 50-yard line of Jack Spinks Stadium Saturday after the Braves’ surprising 20-15 win over Alabama A&M, he had to get emotional.

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Heck, after a winless season his freshman year and two seasons of coming up short at the end, Logan couldn’t help but get emotional. His Braves go into their last game of his career with a shot to win the SWAC’s Eastern Division.

&uot;For the last three games, the only thing in my head was 0-11,&uot; said Logan, one of several starters remaining from that 2000 season. &uot;After that season, I thought, ‘Man, I hope this isn’t an indication of how the rest of my college career will go.’ Then the seasons ahead were up and down, but this season I’m not worried about stats. It’s about the boys playing with me. I’m playing for my teammates now. I’m giving my all.&uot;

The stats weren’t really important Saturday against the Bulldogs, and the only numbers that really mattered were on the scoreboard. The Braves had to overcome a early deficit, but that’s become second-nature to a team that’s come from behind in their last four victories.

This time the Bulldogs had a 12-0 lead in the third quarter, but the Alcorn offense cashed in on three big pass plays to take the lead.

&uot;They’re a good football team,&uot; A&M head coach Anthony Jones said. &uot;You can’t allow a good football team that much opportunity. If you’ve been watching the film on them &045; it’s like I told them &045; I knew we’d get a lead on them. They started throwing the ball around, and those guys made plays. We let them hang around.&uot;

The offense changed its tune in the second half &045; almost a carbon copy of last week’s win over Mississippi Valley State &045; and scored all its points in the second half against a defense that’s tops in the SWAC and fifth-best in all over Division I-AA.

Quarterback Donald Carrie hit freshman Charlie Spiller on two big touchdown passes and tight end LaMarcus Turner on another to take control of the game in almost the blink of an eye.

And Logan and the defense made its pitch for one of the SWAC’s top units in holding the Bulldogs to just a field goal late in the game.

&uot;It seems as if we were pressing a little bit in the first half,&uot; Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas said. &uot;I think we wanted to win so bad today we were pressing a little bit on offense. The defense came out and played very well. That’s how you win championships. Defense wins championships, along with special teams. We scored the football when we had to score the football, and we played tough defense when we had to play tough defense.&uot;

The biggest stands came late in the game when the Braves posted that 20-12 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Alabama A&M drove 67 yards down to the Alcorn 13 before Jeremiah Bonds was stopped on a fourth-and-2 situation.

A&M held the Braves to a punt and drove deep again. This time the Bulldogs stuck with Timothy Robinson at quarterback instead of starter Johnny Keith, and Robinson got the team a first down at the Alcorn 9.

Two runs and a pass broken up by ASU linebacker Dwan Wilson forced the Bulldogs to settle on a 20-yard Rashad Cylar field goal to cut it to 20-15.

The Braves were held to punt, but on fourth down and 10 Robinson had a pass picked off by Tyrone Parsons with 25 seconds left to end it.

&uot;The defense did an outstanding job all four quarters,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;What most people don’t understand is we played the defending Eastern Division champions, and you don’t beat a champion without the champion putting up a good fight. We bent a little bit, but we didn’t break. When we had to stop them, we stopped them.&uot;

The Braves got rolling on their second possession of the second half after the offense was turnover-plagued in the first half. On the first play of their second drive Carrie hit Spiller on a 61-yard touchdown pass for their first score to cut the lead to 12-6.

A&M was forced to punt on its next drive, and the Braves struck again on the ensuing drive when Carrie hit Turner on a little pass over the middle. Turner barreled his way through the secondary to the end zone with 1:06 left in the third to give the Braves a 13-12 lead.

The Alcorn defense held again and forced A&M to punt, and punt returner Lonnie Teagle brought it back 37 yards to the A&M 39. On the first play Carrie hit Spiller on a touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter for the 20-12 lead.

&uot;We came out and wanted to raise our intensity level,&uot; Carrie said. &uot;We came out at halftime and said we were kind of dead out there. We knew all we needed was one or two plays for the defense or offense to spark us, and it did. That’s the kind of team we’ve been all year &045; well, most of the second half. We know six or seven points won’t beat us.&uot;