Alcorn to take on similar team

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2008

Lorman — Alcorn State and Alabama State share a few common threads going into Saturday’s 1 p.m. game.

Both teams lost this past weekend by one point — Alcorn State kicker Taylor Richardson missed a last-second field goal against Texas Southern, and Alabama State botched a snap on an extra-point attempt that would have tied its game against Alabama A&M with two minutes left.

Also, both teams have one Southwestern Athletic Conference victory. Both wins are to the same opponent, Mississippi Valley State.

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The Braves beat the Delta Devils 35-21, while the Hornets were victorious 47-7.

While Alcorn State coach Ernest Jones said the similarities are “just a coincidence,” he does admit the one-point losses are tough.

The Braves had scored a safety with 17 seconds left in the game and, after an onside kick, got into position for the field goal, which flew wide left as time expired.

“That was tough on us,” Jones said. “Over the last two minutes my receiver makes a great catch but they take the catch from him, we stop them and go down to get in field goal range, but we miss it. That was rough.”

While the homecoming loss was a bitter pill to swallow, especially since it was the Tigers’ first SWAC win since 2006, the Braves have a good system in place to move on.

“We have what we call a 24-hour rule. That’s win or lose,” Jones said. “You have 24 hours to enjoy the win or get over the defeat. After 24 hours it’s all been about Alabama State.”

Saturday is Senior Day for Alcorn State, and Jones wants the seniors’ last game in Jack Spinks Stadium to be memorable.

And if it’s anything like last week’s games for the two teams, it will be.

Alcorn ran the ball 37 times for 144 yards and completed 19-of-27 passes for 173 yards in the game, something of which he’s sure the Hornets will be aware.

“We’re going to try to run the football again. We had one of our best days of running the football,” Jones said. “Our quarterback only had seven incomplete passes. Two were his fault, and there were a couple drops. But they made some great plays defensively. We don’t have any new plans.”

Unfortunately for the Braves, Texas Southern did just as well on the ground last weekend, rushing 39 times for 134 yards.

Jones is sure Alabama State saw that too, although with another good quarterback, the Braves will see a lot of balls through the air.

“It’s going to be another shootout. They’re going to throw a lot,” he said. “They’ll be four or five wide to throw the ball up field. We’ll have pretty much same game plan as last week.”

Alabama State quarterback Anthony Speight completed 13-of-26 passes for 130 yards and two scores in the Hornets’ loss, but he also threw four interceptions.

The Hornets’ main running back, Rahmod Traylor carried 21 times for 139 yards.

Alabama State and Alcorn State are neck-and-neck at third and fourth place in the SWAC East standings and in most of their statistics, and Jones would like to see some separation.

And while Jones is disappointed that the Braves could not pull out Saturday’s win, he is finally seeing them with a fighting chance to win it at the end of games.

“You have to realize they’ve been losing for a long time,” he said. “That’s hard to comprehend, that when something discouraging happens you can convert back to losing. What we’ve got built in is that they’re going to fight to compete. You have to win it.

“That’s what’s hard for me to get into their minds. If you asked them right now if they are going to have a chance to win this weekend, they’ll all tell you yes. And that’s great, because they can. But can you go to the next level and win the freaking game?”