Braves survive turnovers to win late

Published 1:06 am Sunday, November 4, 2007

LORMAN — It was ugly. It was boring. It was extremely hard to watch. But in the end, it was a victory. And that’s something Alcorn State desperately needed.

The Braves overcame 10 fumbles, four lost fumbles and 19 penalties for 191 yards to take a come-from-behind win over Mississippi Valley State, 17-14.

“If we won 1-0 I wouldn’t care,” Alcorn State quarterback Tony Hobson said. “I don’t know how we would win 1-0 but hey, we’ll take it.”

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For a while, it looked like a game neither team wanted to win. The teams combined for 16 fumbles and lost a total of seven. There were also a combined total of 31 penalties in the game for a combined 286 yards.

Alcorn (2-6, 2-5 SWAC) looked like they had blown their chance to win after a 4-yard punt by MVSU backup punter Dennis Miller gave the Braves the ball at the Delta Devil 19 with 4:20 remaining in the game and Alcorn trailing 14-10. On second down, Hopson hit tailback Joshua Brumfield in the flat for what would have been a first and goal. However, Brumfield fumbled and MVSU’s Tommy Seawright recovered and returned the ball to the MVSU 39.

Despite the devastating turnover, Alcorn State tailback Antoine Young said the team never lost faith.

“We continued to stay positive because we kept faith in our defense that they were going to get the ball back for us,” Young said. “Once they did we were able to capitalize.”

The biggest play of the game occurred two plays later when Valley quarterback Ryan Burciaga fumbled the snap and Alcorn’s Lester Mosley recovered at the MVSU 41-yard line.

Three plays later, facing fourth and six from the 37-yard line, the Braves caught another break when pass interference was called on what would have been an incomplete pass. That moved the ball to the 22-yard line and gave the Braves a fresh set of downs.

“Thank you Jesus,” Alcorn coach Johnny Thomas said about the call. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Alcorn broke through two plays later when Young found a hole around the left side of the offensive line and scampered 11 yards for the winning score with 1:42 remaining.

“I’ve got to give all the credit to my offensive line on that run,” Young said. “They opened up a big hole and I just ran through it.”

Mississippi Valley State (2-7, 2-6 SWAC) drove inside the Alcorn 45 in the final minute but Burciaga once again fumbled, this one forced by a huge hit from Idly Etienne. Roderick Williams recovered for the Braves with 51 seconds left to seal the victory.

“I though that we were going to give the game a way when we had those turnovers, but we stayed together as a team and fought through those mistakes,” Thomas said. “Fortunately, the offense was able to get something on the board and the defense came back and got the game-winning fumble.”

While a forced fumble ended the game for Alcorn, it is also how it began.

Early in the second quarter, Alcorn’s Lee Robinson stripped MVSU tailback Ronald Brewer of the ball. Brave lineman Joe Keys picked it up and rumbled 15 yards to paydirt to put Alcorn up 7-0 after Alexander Oelfke’s point after kick.

Valley tied the score with just 16 seconds left in the half when Brewer plunged in from a yard away to tie the score after the Zack Gilarski extra point.

Alcorn took the lead back midway through the third quarter on a 24-yard field goal by Oelfke but Valley regained the lead with a Brewer 3-yard run late in the third.

The two teams then traded turnovers and punts for the final 15 minutes until Young’s winning score.

It’s always been this type of game against Valley where it goes down to the very last series that determines the outcome of the game,” Thomas said. “The same thing happened this year. Fortunately we were on the winning side.”