Missed opportunities plague ASU

Published 12:47 am Sunday, November 11, 2007

LORMAN — Alcorn State had numerous opportunities to pull off a huge upset Saturday afternoon at Jack Spinks Stadium.

However, the Braves couldn’t take advantage of those opportunities and fell 24-20 to an Alabama A&M team that is still fighting for the SWAC Eastern Division championship.

“We had several opportunities to win the game,” Alcorn State coach Johnny Tmoas said. ‘We just didn’t play very well in the first half and that cost us.”

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After scoring a touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Chris Walker to Channin Pugh early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 24-20, the Braves had three chances inside Alabama A&M territory the remainder of the quarter.

Alcorn faced a fourth and seven from the 20-yard line with just under nine minutes left, but Walker was stopped two yards short of the line to gain on a quarterback scramble.

After forcing a Alabama A&M punt on the next possession, the Braves were right back in business after Walker found Nate Hughes down the sidelines for a 46-yard gain to the 23.

However, two plays later, Walker threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Al Donaldson at the 4-yard line.

Alcorn’s defense rose up and forced another punt that was returned by Hugues to the 40 with just over three minutes left. But the Braves’ chance at an upset ended when Stephen Tucker stepped in front of another Walker pass with two minuets left that ended the game.

“We had the ball in scoring position three times in the fourth quarter and couldn’t punch it in,” Thomas said. “We have to take advantage of those opportunities if we want to pull off a win like this.”

Walker finished the game 12-of-26 for 168 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown after coming in the game in the third quarter after starting quarterback Tony Hobson sprained an ACL early in the second half. Hobson was 9-of-17 for 123 yards and an interception before the injury.

“Chris was a little rusty coming off a shoulder injury,” Thomas said. “He hadn’t played in a couple of weeks and he was still trying to get back into game shape. That led to some mistakes.”

However, it was a mistake by Hobson that gave Alabama A&M the touchdown that turned out to be the game-winner.

With the Braves trailing 17-13 late in the second quarter, Hobson fumbled a snap from center. Antonio Nelson picked it up for Alabama A&M and scampered 8 yards into the end zone for a 24-13 lead they would not relinquish.

“We gave up a no effort touchdown,” Thomas said. “We can’t make mistakes like that and expect to win. That touchdown turned out to be our doom.”

Alabama A&M jumped out on top 7-0 early in the first quarter on a 3-yard run by Ulysses Banks but Alcorn tied it up a few minutes later when Hobson found Antonio DeJarnett for a 15-yard strike.

The two teams traded touchdowns a few minutes later as well. The Bulldogs scored on a 16-yard run by Banks but Alcorn answered when Hobson found a streaking Emmanuel Arceneaux for a 70-yard bomb down the sidelines. However, Alexander Oelfke missed the extra point.

Jeremy Licea’s 40-yard field goal gave Alabama A&M a 17-13 lead with 5:15 left in the second quarter before Hobson’s mistake gave the Bulldogs the touchdown that would eventually win the game.