Braves fail in red zone, fall to rival Tigers

Published 3:15 am Sunday, November 21, 2010

JACKSON — Not being able to capitalize on scoring chances doomed Alcorn State Saturday afternoon against rival Jackson State in the Capital City Classic.

That was Braves head coach Earnest Collins’ explanation following a 27-14 loss against the Tigers. Alcorn failed to score any points in four red zone trips and was held to a season-low 14 points.

“The game basically was missed opportunities on our part,” Collins said. “We got into the red zone I don’t know how many times, but it’s enough times to where the outcome shouldn’t have been as it was.”

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Alcorn quickly found itself in a 21-0 hole in the first quarter. The Tigers scored on their opening possession, driving the ball 52 yards and capping it off with an Edward Lee 1-yard touchdown run.

The Braves failed to gain a yard on their opening possession, going three and out and punting the ball back to Jackson State. The punt went just 23 yards, and the Tigers started on the Alcorn 48.

It took just five plays for Jackson State to score its next touchdown, as Renty Rollins scored on a 21-yard pass from Tigers quarterback Casey Therriault.

On the ensuing Alcorn possession, the Braves once again failed to move the ball, losing three yards and giving the ball back to the Tigers on the Alcorn 48. The Tigers capitalized on the short field position once again, driving down to the 4-yard line before Marcell Wilder scored on a touchdown reception.

“You don’t ever want to go down 21 points,” Collins said. “I don’t care who you have back there, you don’t want to go down 21 points. But that’s football.

“Sometimes it happens to you, sometime it happens to them, and when it happens, and you’re on the bad side of it, you have to try and come back.”

The Braves finally got on the board with 1:52 left in the first quarter. Brandon Bridge completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to Edward Johnson, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 21-7.

The Braves had the chance to score another touchdown, when Jackson State fumbled on its own 1-yard line. The Braves recovered the ball, setting up first and goal from the 1.

On the next play, Alcorn quarterback Brandon Bridge tried to rush for a touchdown, but fumbled the ball. The Tigers’ Andre Wright picked up the ball and ran 94 yards to the Alcorn 5 before being tackled.

A personal foul on the Braves put the ball at the 2-yard line, and the Tigers scored on the next play, with Therriault rushing in for the touchdown. The Tigers missed the extra point, giving Jackson State a 27-7 lead.

Alcorn’s lone touchdown in the second half came on a Jameson Smith 21-yard interception return with 1:37 left in the third. The Braves made it to the red zone two times in the third quarter, but failed to convert on fourth down twice.

In the fourth quarter, the Braves made it to the red zone one final time, getting all the way to the Jackson State 11 before being pushed back to the 21. Alcorn’s Arturo Tamayo missed a 38-yard field goal attempt, capping off the Braves’ 0-4 skid in red zone conversions.

“It all comes down to execution,” Collins said. “When you don’t execute, you don’t get the plays run like you want to. It wasn’t one person or one thing, we just didn’t execute.”

Bridge was hampered by a lingering hamstring injury, causing him to miss some series in the second half. Collins said the fact that Bridge fought through that injury shows he’s not going to quit.

“That’s my team, period. I know none of these guys are going to quit,” Collins said.

“I knew (Brandon) was going to fight, but I didn’t know how much fight he had in him until last week. In this game, I took him out for his own protection, because I didn’t want him working on his hamstring until June.”

The Braves finished their season 5-6.