Purple, Gold play to 6-6 tie at ASU annual spring game

Published 12:08 am Sunday, April 24, 2016

LORMAN — Alcorn State fans got their first look at the Braves football program under its new head coach Fred McNair Saturday.

The Purple and Gold annual spring game ended in a 6-6 in a game that was dominated by the Braves’ defense.

The game’s lone two touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. Approaching the 12-minute mark, quarterback Lenoris Footman connected with receiver Ray Anderson for a 35-yard strike down the middle of the field. Nearing the seven-minute mark, backup quarterback Deundre Pickett-White found receiver Jaylon Walker for a three-yard touchdown pass.

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“It’s the first very competitive situation the guys have been in to this point,” McNair said. “I guess the jitters got to them a bit.”

Footman, who started the final six games of the 2015 campaign, completed 11 of 24 passes for 113 yards. Meanwhile, second-stringer Pickett-White completed 21 of 35 passes for 151 yards. McNair said he thought the quarterbacks passed well in the game and that most of the incompletions were the result of dropped passes from wide outs early in the game.

“All during the practice week, they did a great job of catching the ball, but I guess that didn’t translate (Saturday),” McNair said.

The Alcorn defense, which had the second-lowest opponent passing efficiency rating in the country last season, 91.93, continued its dominant streak. Both defenses combined to sack the quarterbacks 13 times in the game.

Additionally, the Braves defense forced three turnovers — two fumbles and an interception on a Footman long heave on the final play of the game.

McNair highlighted the defensive secondary for an exceptional day, crediting first-year defensive coordinator Cedric Thomas for their progress to this point.

“The defense did a great job, and that’s what we’re looking for in our secondary,” McNair said. “Coach Thomas is doing a phenomenal job of brining pressure in the situations it’s needed. I’d hate to be the team that plays against them.”

McNair said he will be evaluating his young offensive line, which lost several players to graduation. McNair said the coaching staff will get together Monday to examine the film from Saturday’s game.

“Mainly, we’ll see some of the things we can correct as far as tempo, lining up and not being caught offsides,” he said. “Once that starts happening in a quick way, we’ll get better.”

Perhaps the biggest Achilles heel to the Alcorn offenses Saturday were their inabilities to convert on third down. The Gold offense, captained by Footman, converted just two of its 11 third downs faced. The purple team didn’t fare much better as it was 2-of-12

McNair said the offenses’ troubles on third down can be traced back to the dropped passes.

“You have to be able to move the chains on third down” McNair said. ”We really have to correct that. I think we will, but these receivers have to catch the ball.”

The gold team finished with 148 yards of offense, while the purple put up 215 yards.

Aaron Baker, who played for the purple team, led both teams with 37 rushing yards. Silas Spearman churned out 21 yards for the gold squad.

Alcorn State opens the season Sunday, Sept. 4 in Daytona Beach, Fla., against Bethune Cookman-University.