Braves attempt at last-minute comeback fails for 26-21 loss to Tigers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 23, 2008

JACKSON — In a season of heartbreaking losses for Alcorn State, Saturday’s might have been the most discouraging.

Down 26-0 early in the third quarter against arch-rival Jackson State, the Braves came roaring back in the second half to give themselves a chance to win, only to see a pass into the end zone batted away as time expired to seal a 26-21 loss in the Capital City Classic.

Down by five, the Braves had one final chance to win the game after Jackson State kicker had his 24-yard field goal blocked with 52 seconds left. After taking over at their own 21-yard line with no timeouts, the Braves only moved the ball to their own 33 with 20 seconds left, before quarterback Tim Buckley hit Emmanuel Arceneaux on a go route down the sideline for a 41-yard gain to the Jackson State 26 with 13 seconds left.

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The Braves had three throws into the end zone, but all three of them were incomplete, including the final pass that was batted away by Jackson State defensive back Marcell Young at the goal line as time expired.

“I asked them to go out and show their pride (in the second half),” Alcorn State coach Ernest Jones said. “They represented the university and showed what we’re about. They played for all four quarters, and that’s all I can ask of them.”

Jackson State coach Rick Comegy was just relieved to get the game over with.

“Lord have mercy,” Comegy said. “Thank you Jesus. Thank God we came out with a win.”

Trailing 26-0, momentum finally swung Alcorn’s way when they blocked a Jackson State punt and recovered it at the Tiger 12-yard line with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Braves capitalized on the drive when Buckley found Arceneaux in the end zone on a 6-yard touchdown pass on fourth down.

Alcorn’s defense then put points on the board less than two minutes later when linebacker Lee Robinson intercepted a Michael Mosley pass and returned it 11 yards to the end zone.

Alcorn’s defense dominated the Jackson State offense in the fourth quarter, forcing a punt on each possession, and the Braves offense finally made it pay off when Buckley found Elliot Moore with an 18-yard scoring toss with 5:48 remaining in the game.

After forcing another punt, the Braves drove to the Tigers 42-yard line, but were stopped on fourth down with 2:18 remaining.

Jackson State finally put a drive together, and moved the ball inside the Alcorn 10-yard line, but Perri’s field goal was blocked, giving the Braves one final chance.

“Alcorn State really turned it on in the second half,” Comegy said. “Anything can happen in a rivalry game. This game always is going to be a barn burner.”

It looked like it would be anything but a barn burner in the first half, as the Tigers rolled to a 21-0 halftime lead.

Jackson State took advantage of a failed onside kick attempt by the Braves on the opening kickoff to score its first touchdown less than 90 seconds into the game.

After taking over at the Alcorn 43, Luther Edwards ran for a 37-yard gain to the 6 on Jackson State’s first play from scrimmage. Quarterback Trae Rutland scored on a 5-yard run two plays later to give the Tigers a quick 7-0 lead.

The score stayed that way until Jackson State scored two touchdowns just 17 seconds apart late in the second quarter.

Edwards Lee capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge with 4:46 left in the second quarter and Ryan Rich then intercepted a Buckley pass and returned it 21 yards to the paint for another score.

Jackson State came out after halftime and picked up right where they left off, driving right down the field on their opening possession. The Braves finally stopped them, but Perri hit a 34-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 24-0.

The Jackson State defense then recorded a safety on Alcorn’s next possession when Rich tackled running back Joshua Brumfield in the end zone with 8:09 left in the third quarter.

However, the blocked punt changed the game entirely, and the Braves dominated the remainder of the contest.

The close loss has Jones looking forward to next year already.

“We want to keep improving and make this game matter for both teams in the future,” Jones said. “We want it to be a case where both sides are playing to go to Birmingham (for the SWAC championship game).”