Braves defense steps up big in shutout of Texas Southern

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 31, 2004

LORMAN &045; There’s nothing like being shut out during a mid-season game to send you back to the drawing board.

That’s what Texas Southern is doing today, but the Tigers aren’t the only ones. Alcorn threw a donut on a struggling offensive attack Saturday at Jack Spinks Stadium in a 30-0 decision, holding the Tigers to just 33 yards total offense.

Yet, very few members of Alcorn’s defense left satisfied despite a much-improved effort on that side of the ball.

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&uot;We’re very proud of the defensive effort,&uot; Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas said. &uot;We did a much better job of tackling. We did a much better job creating turnovers. Overall, I think we need to get better, and we need to get a little more consistent. We’re not satisfied with where we are at this particular point. We’re always looking to improve as a team.&uot;

The Braves just executed better on the defensive side of the ball and had the Tigers in negative yards for most of the game until they connected on a 35-yard pass at the start of the fourth quarter with the game all but over.

Sure, the Tigers are the worst offensive team in the SWAC with their youth and injuries, but the Braves were in no mood to feel sorry. The Tigers didn’t have a snap past the 50 in the first half, were thrown for a loss on three straight plays after starting one drive at the ASU 37 after recovering a fumble and physically crossed midfield on their own power just once.

The Braves recovered two fumbles and came up with three interceptions.

&uot;I didn’t play well in the last two games,&uot; said linebacker Dwan Wilson, who finished with a team-high 12 tackles along with one of the team’s six sacks. &uot;I took it upon myself to play better and help the defense out. It was very important. I’m a senior, and this was my last homecoming. I wanted to play well and give us a chance to win.&uot;

Wilson was a catalyst on offense at linebacker, part of a unit that was revamped last week when Leo Nobles moved to middle linebacker and junior college transfer Terrance Barnes taking Nobles’ place at strongside linebacker.

Nobles had a big game, too, with 10 tackles, but the entire unit did a better job of containing and executing.

&uot;We’re interested in winning a championship,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;The defense played well, but they have to get better. You must be able to tackle, hit people, be aggressive and line up and execute your assignments every down. You have to intimidate people on defense. That’s something the players have to accomplish. That’s something we work on week in and week out.&uot;

But the turnovers helped out a bunch as well. Lester Mosley recovered a fumble on the Tigers’ third play of the game, and Barnes came up with a fumble at the TSU 38 to set up the drive that ended with a David McConnell 23-yard field goal miss.

Jeffrey Hobbs, Victor Alexandrea and Quentin Sullivan each had interceptions. It was Hobbs’ third pick in two games, and Sullivan came up with a grab in the end zone after the Tigers drove to the ASU 23.

&uot;We went out and played a good game,&uot; defensive end Bryan Woods said. &uot;We’ve got to put this game behind us and get ready for the next game. It’s very big. From here on out, every game we play will be a big game for us.&uot;

Woods, the Natchez High product in his first year as a starter, had his best night so far by registering seven tackles, four tackles for loss and 2 1/2 sacks. Woods and Barnes were credited with half a sack on a third-and-3 situation at the Texas Southern 27 to force the Tigers to punt from their own 18.

Instead, the snap sailed over punter Lance Lane’s head and out of the end zone for a safety that gave the Braves a 16-0 lead.

&uot;We practiced on the quarterback rolling out,&uot; Woods said. &uot;All week we’ve been practicing on rushing up the field and rushing the quarterback. I had a pretty good day today. I just went out and played hard. Our confidence is kind of high, and my confidence level is always high.&uot;

Said Wilson, who also had a sack: &uot;We’ve been working on our blitz packages all week. I think we did a lot better on our blitzing. We’ve been trying to work hard in practice and play better.&uot;