Alcorn State crushes Texas Southern

Published 12:02 am Sunday, October 19, 2014

By: Ernest Bowker

The Vicksburg Post

Taking a cue from its famous band, Alcorn State picked up the beat Saturday after hitting a rare sour note.

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John Gibbs Jr. threw for three touchdowns and added another on the ground, as Alcorn blasted Texas Southern 40-25 in front of a huge homecoming crowd at Jack Spinks Stadium.

Arron Baker ran for 89 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries for the Braves, who bounced back after losing to Grambling the previous week.

“It means a lot to bounce back, but we still have to get better. We only played one half of a ballgame. We need to play a whole 60 minutes,” said Gibbs, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 244 yards. “Coach has been preaching that to us every day. We can’t just play a first half. Yeah, I’m happy with the win, but we didn’t come out the second half and play like we wanted to.”

Alcorn (6-2, 4-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) got back on track in its quest for the Eastern Division championship by scoring touchdowns on each of its first six possessions.

Alcorn has a one-game lead on second-place Alabama State with four conference games remaining, and also owns the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams.

“It’s always good to get a win on homecoming. It’s a big win for us because, coming out of last week, you get the bad taste out of your mouth coming off the loss,” Alcorn coach Jay Hopson said. “I thought we played really good the first half. Second half, I’d have liked to have seen us do a little more than we did, but the guys competed hard early. We got the cushion built up, and it was good to get the ‘W.’”

Unlike in the loss to Grambling, when the Braves fell behind 21-0, they got back to their normal pattern of putting opponents away early.

A long punt return by Anthony Williams Jr. and a 33-yard run by Jaborian McKenzie set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Anthony Williams III for Alcorn’s first score, and then Gibbs went to work.

The junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes and ran for another on Alcorn’s next four possessions to push the lead to 33-7 with 8:31 left in the second quarter.

Jordan Payne, Charles Hughes and LaDarrie Davis caught the touchdown passes.

Arron Baker capped the first-half flurry with a 21-yard TD run with 5:33 to go.

“Everything was clicking. Everything the coaches called was just wide open. The offense played a good game, and the O-line did good,” Gibbs said. “Texas Southern plays a similar defensive style to Grambling, so it feels good to know how to approach that and win.”

After its first-half offensive feast, Alcorn seemed content to kick back and pick the scraps out of its teeth in the second half — too content, Hopson said afterward.

Texas Southern (5-2, 3-2) never came close to getting back in the game, but Alcorn didn’t do much either. The Braves only had 125 yards of total offense in the second half.

Texas Southern, meanwhile, had 208 of its 319 yards in garbage time and put a couple of touchdowns on the board. Jay Christophe threw a 12-yard TD pass to Fred Plummer late in the third quarter, and Jamal Small ran for a 7-yard score with 30 seconds left in the game.

Small finished the game ith 52 rushing yards and the one TD, and also completed 6 of 14 passes for 78 yards and a score.

“It’s always good to go in with a big lead, but you always have to play 60 minutes because those leads aren’t secure,” Hopson said. “I would have liked to have seen us finish a little better today, but I was really pleased with the first half.”