Missed field goal on final play dooms Braves to defeat

Published 12:35 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

LORMAN — The kick was up, up — and to the left Saturday as Alcorn State lost a close and high-scoring homecoming game to Texas Southern on Saturday, 30-29.

The game wasn’t decided until Alcorn State kicker Taylor Richardson missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired.

Both offenses were all over the field, recording a combined 717 yards of offense.

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And while Braves quarterback Tim Buckley had more touchdowns in the air than Bobby Reid of Texas Southern, the Tigers’ passing game was the difference in the end.

Reid, a former Oklahoma State signal caller, completed 15-of-21 passes for a 151 yards and a score, and backup Cornelius Harmon added 115 on 9-of-17 passes.

“He’s able to get the ball to his receivers, he understands what they’re trying to do on offense,” Alcorn State coach Ernest Jones said of Reid. “He was a difference maker. When he wasn’t throwing it, he was running it well.”

Reid had 28 yards on eight carries with another touchdown.

Alcorn took the early lead with a 47-yard punt return by Corey McLaurin, after missing a field goal just minutes earlier. But Texas Southern tied it up two minutes later on a Reid’s 33-yard run.

Alcorn answered again when quarterback Tim Buckley connected with Edward Johnson for a 3-yard touchdown.

Despite being banged up since the Sept. 27 game against Southern University, Buckley completed 19-of-27 passes for 173 yards and two scores.

“Buckley’s a soldier. He’s not going to let you pull him out of a football game unless something is really critically wrong with him,” Jones said. “He was making the throws we asked him to make, and he made the runs we asked him to make. He was managing the football game.”

Texas Southern took the momentum going into halftime, scoring twice in the second quarter.

The first was a 20-yard field goal by Robert Hersh, followed by a 1-yard, basketball-style pass into the end zone from Reid to Roland Robins.

Alcorn State scored first in the third quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Taylor Richardson, but the Tigers answered with 3 points of their own, a 27-yarder by Hersh to stay ahead, 20-17.

The fourth quarter is where it got interesting. Just seven seconds in, Davaris Pilcher caught a 26-yard pass from Buckley to take a 4-point lead.

Hersh put up a 22-yard field goal 2 1/2 minutes later, and Richardson put up three more another 1:22 after that.

With the Braves up 27-23, the Tigers fumbled the ball on Alcorn’s 48-yard line and the Braves recovered it. But just three plays later, they fumbled and the Tigers recovered.

That drive resulted in a touchdown run by Marcus Wright to put the Tigers up 30-27.

Alcorn caught a 45-yard pass downfield minutes later, but it was taken out of the receiver’s hands and returned to the 38-yard line. After four plays, the Braves recorded a safety by pushing Harmon 34 yards into the Tigers’ end zone, putting them within one.

The Braves took over at their own 20 and attempted a field goal on third down with just 2 seconds to go, but Richardson’s kick drifted left for the loss.

“We can’t get over that hump,” Jones said. “We talk about competing for four quarters, we talk about giving yourself an opportunity to win a football game in the fourth quarter. We keep getting there, but then all of a sudden we do something to kill ourselves, whether it be a penalty or a fumble or a dropped ball.

“We’ve got to get over that. We’re trying to build a program here, and you can’t build a program doing those things.”

The Braves’ game plan was to run the ball most of the game, and they were successful. They racked up 144 yards on the ground behind 22 carries for 93 yards by Pilcher and another 50 yards on 14 rushes by Buckley.

But in the high-scoring game, Alcorn State was just a bit short.

“You don’t want to continue to keep your defense out there because in a high-scoring game one play can be a touchdown,” Jones said. “So if you ran 50 to 60 plays up and down the field that one play can get you. It gets a little bit tiring, but that’s football.”

The Braves lost their second-straight homecoming game — they lost to Prairie View A&M, 17-7, last season — and Texas Southern recorded its first Southwestern Athletic Conference win of the season.

Next Saturday’s game is Senior Day against Alabama State.

“It will be our last time for our seniors to play on our football field so we want to hopefully get them a win.”