McCullough’s Kicks: Alcorn kicker plays for sister with cerebral palsy, breaks record in win

Published 1:13 am Sunday, November 5, 2017

Alcorn State University sophomore Corey McCullough can kick, although his sister, Erin, cannot.

McCullough’s sister — who is 17 — has cerebral palsy. She cannot walk or talk, so he does it for her.

McCullough kicked four field goals Saturday — breaking Alcorn’s school record for most in a single season with 14 — propelling the Braves (6-3, 4-1) to a 47-22 win over SWAC East rival Alabama A&M.

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“I feel like the reason I can kick so well is because she can’t walk. I feel like what she doesn’t have is what I have extra,” McCullough said.

Though Erin has yet to see McCullough in person at Spinks-Casem Stadium, he said she is always there.

On his left bicep, McCullough has a tattoo that reads “Erin Marie” on a scroll outlined in pink. It has a green ribbon in the background to support cerebral palsy awareness, he said.

“Her favorite color is pink,” McCullough said. “The last time she saw me play was my senior night in high school, but she does watch me on TV.”

Alcorn was first to score in the win Saturday, as McCullough nailed his first field goal attempt from 24 yards out toward the midway point of the first quarter. He also made a 37-yard attempt shortly before the end of the period.

Less than five minutes later, McCullough cleared the uprights once more from 38 yards out.

Late in the second quarter, the Bulldogs came as close as they would get to threatening Alcorn’s lead when Isaiah Bailey caught a 6-yard touchdown from Aqeel Glass to make the score, 16-10.

After McCullough made his final field goal, this one a 39-yarder, the Braves took a 19-10 lead into halftime and never looked back.

“Corey has been big for us this year,” Alcorn head coach Fred McNair said. “He’s an outstanding kicker, and he understands. It’s a hard job, but it worked out for us today.”

McCullough received help from his fellow teammates in the second half as the Braves exploded on the ground, ending with 416 yards rushing as a team.

Running back P.J. Simmons and quarterback Noah Johnson led Alcorn with two rushing touchdowns apiece, while both totaled more than 100 yards and averaged more than 17 yards per carry.

Senior running back De’Lance Turner also had more than 100 yards on the ground and found the end zone once himself.

The win marked the 10th consecutive time Alcorn has defeated a division opponent, aiding its efforts in hopes of winning the SWAC East title for the fourth straight year.

McCullough did miss one field goal attempt in second quarter, as it was blocked by Alabama A&M. However, he was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points.

McCullough was also effective on punts, knocking six downfield for an average of 51.5 yards.

His passion for kicking is not only led by his sister, McCullough said, but his entire family.

A native of Louisville, McCullough said his family comes to every game — home or away.

“It really means a lot to me that my family comes to support me,” he said. “There’s a nurse that comes every weekend to stay with my sister so they can come.”

While he is thankful for the support, McCullough added nothing could ever break the bond between him and his sister.

Matter of fact, McCullough — who said he is known for his long curly hair — is often told he looks a lot like many people. But, Erin stands above the rest.

“My momma calls us twins because we look a lot alike — same hair, same eyes,” he said. “I think it’s cool because our parents joke they adopted us because we don’t look anything like them.”

McCullough’s field goal record was previously held by Wilfredo Rosales (1980) and David McConnell (2003) with 13 made in a single season. Moving forward, he said he wants to break more school records, including for the longest field goal at Alcorn.

The current record is 50 yards, and McCullough came close by making a 49-yarder against Florida International University on Sept. 8.

More importantly than his goals, perhaps, McCullough said being a part of the Alcorn football team has been worth the work, especially for his sister.

“It feels good to have personal accolades to look back and say you did, but I still like to win as a team,” he said. “I’m sure my mom told the nurse, and I know she is smiling.”

Alcorn remains at home next week as it is slated to face Mississippi Valley State at 2 p.m. Saturday.