Saturday, October 8, 2016

Alcorn’s Dominant Second Half Spoils AAMU’s Homecoming

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Trailing 16-14 at the half, the Alcorn State University football program outscored Alabama A&M 28-3 the rest of the way to ruin the Bulldogs homecoming, 42-19 Saturday at Louis Crews Stadium.

The Braves (2-3, 2-2 SWAC) wasted little time in the third quarter as they blocked an AAMU (1-5, 1-4 SWAC) punt on the opening series. On the very next play, junior quarterback Lenorris Footman connected with senior Collins Moore on a 32-yard pass to take the lead, and Alcorn never looked back from there.

Footman made his first start since the opening game of the season against Alabama State. He shined with five touchdowns including three rushing. Footman tallied 122 rushing yards including a 53-yard dash through the middle for a touchdown in the second quarter. He also ended with 132 yards through the air with a pair of touchdown passes.

Alcorn pounded AAMU on the ground for a season-high 287 rushing yards. Junior De'Lance Turner posted 81 rushing yards, while junior Arron Baker etched 60.

Senior Jaborian McKenzie grabbed seven passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Moore notched 50 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Braves were well balanced with junior Daniel Franklin and senior Darien Anderson wrapped-up eight tackles apiece. Sophomore LaShaun Ealey and senior Eric Foster each had interceptions, and freshman Solomon Muhammad forced a fumble that was recovered by junior Michael Brooks.

The Braves limited AAMU quarterback De'Angelo Balla to 14-for-30 throwing for 181 yards and a pair of interceptions. He was sacked three times by sophomore Trae Ferrell, junior Jayron Harness and Foster.

Alcorn improved to 2-0 against teams in the SWAC East Division. It defeated Alabama State 21-18 on Sept. 10.

The Braves scored on their opening drive with a 16-yard touchdown carry through the left side by Baker. The run was setup after an 18-yard catch by Moore on a third-and-five, followed by a 25-yard quarterback-keeper by Footman.

AAMU's first possession resulted in an interception as Foster was able to read an overthrow and picked it off along the left sideline on a third-and-13.

Late in the first quarter, the Bulldogs threatened with a first-and-goal on the two-yard line. After a false pushed them back, they tried to run it through the middle but Muhammad stripped the ball loose and it was recovered by Brooks to spoil AAMU's opportunity.

On the ensuing Alcorn drive, Turner broke loose along the right side for a career-long 43-yard rush. The Braves got to the redzone after Footman got out of the pocket and fired an 18-yard pass to senior LaDarrien Davis. The Braves got to the three-yard line, but after a chop block pushed them back, they attempted a 26-yard field goal that sailed wide.

The Bulldogs took over midway through the second quarter and converted both a fourth-and-five and a fourth-and-10 to get to the redzone. On its 16th play of the drive, AAMU settled for a 35-yard field goal by Nick Carden to make it a 7-3 game.

A good kick-return by McKenzie set up the Braves on their own 47-yard line. On the first play, Footman dashed up the middle for a 53-yard touchdown as he dove for the endzone and stretched the ball across.

Late in the half, AAMU converted a 3rd-and-11 to keep its drive going which eventually led to a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Dorsey with 51 seconds left. The extra point went wide, but the Bulldogs got it back with 37 seconds after an interception on Alcorn's first play. AAMU took the lead on a 23-yard pass to Dorsey and went into the half ahead 16-14.

The Bulldogs were forced to punt on the opening series of the second half, but it was blocked by Turner. On the very next play, Footman threw a deep ball to Moore and it was caught in the endzone for 32 yards to quickly put Alcorn back on top, 21-16.

AAMU responded with a 14-play drive, but was sacked by Harness on third-and-goal from the five-yard line to bring out the field goal unit. Carden chipped in a 34-yarder to cut the deficit to 21-19 near the end of the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Braves put together a six-play drive, capped by a 20-yard touchdown reception by McKenzie to push the lead back up to 28-19. The series included a 15-yard sprint through the middle by Baker and a 21-yard screen to McKenzie before his touchdown.

After a stop by the Braves defensively, a shanked punt resulted in Alcorn taking over at the AAMU 26-yard line. Turner pounded through the middle to get the ball to the one-yard line after a 19-yard run, and Footman finished off the drive with a quarterback-option run.

Alcorn registered its second interception of the game late, this time by Ealey. The Braves cashed in on an eight-play drive, concluded by a four-yard rush by Footman to the left side. McKenzie accounted for 21 yards on the drive including a 10-yard run and a 11-yard catch.


1st Quarter
12:36 – 16-yard run by A. Baker (H. McCraney), 6-65-2:24, 7-0 Alcorn
2nd Quarter
6:11 – 35-yard field goal by N. Carden, 16-61-7:14, 7-3 Alcorn
5:51 – 53-yard run by L. Footman, 1-53-0:20, 14-3 Alcorn
0:54 – 26-yard pass from D. Balla to J. Dorsey (N. Carden XP missed), 6-82-1:45, 14-9 Alcorn
0:29 – 23-yard pass from D. Balla to J. Dorsey (N. Carden XP), 1-23-0:08, 16-14 AAMU
3rd Quarter
10:59 – 32-yard pass from L. Footman to C. Moore (H. McCraney XP), 1-32-0:07, 21-16 Alcorn
1:54 – 34-yard field goal by N. Carden, 14-53-9:05, 21-19 Alcorn
4th Quarter
12:46 – 20-yard pass from L. Footman to J. McKenzie (H. McCraney XP), 6-77-1:24, 28-19 Alcorn
8:10 – 1-yard run by L. Footman (H. McCraney XP), 4-26-2:05, 35-19 Alcorn
3:14 – 4-yard run by L. Footman (H. McCraney XP), 8-33-4:00, 42-19 Alcorn

- Alcorn wrapped up its three-game road swing with its third consecutive win over the Bulldogs. The Braves won 44-10 last year and 41-14 on the road in 2014. The Braves have not lost at Alabama A&M since 2008.

- The Braves have now won six of their last seven SWAC road games dating back to last season when they finished 5-0 away from home in conference play.

- Alcorn entered the game ranked second in the SWAC in rushing offense with 179.2 yards per game. The Braves were way above that mark with 287 yards on the ground. It was the second-most rushing yards by any team in the SWAC this season as Grambling State ran for 296 yards against Prairie View A&M on Oct. 1, 2016.

- The offensive line did not allow a sack in the game. They've been sacked just three times on the entire season, the fewest in the SWAC.

- Franklin entered the contest ranked seventh in the league in tackles with 7.5 per outing, and upped it with eight Saturday.

- Turner's 43-yard run late in the first quarter increased his career-best from 25 yards set earlier this season at Grambling State.

- Footman's three touchdown runs were the second-most of his career after he ran-in four against Southern last season.

- Alcorn's captains were Brooks, Moore and junior Norlando Veals. The Braves won the toss and chose to receive.

Quoting Alcorn head coach Fred McNair
Opening Statement
"The key for us was just to stay focused. We talked about it the entire week. All we wanted to do was stay focused, execute and make plays. At half, I had to say some things as the head coach to get these guys to step up in the second half. They obviously had to play a better half and they did just that."

On what was working in the second half
"We were executing plays the way that we were supposed to. The offensive line stood its ground and the defense really came to life. That's the kind of half you see when everyone does what they are supposed to do."

On Lenorris Footman
"He did what we expected. He was smart with the football and made the right reads. Lenorris came in and did a phenomenal job at practice this week and it showed today."

On how excited he is for homecoming
"Well actually, I'm just excited to play a home game. It's been a while, having been on the road for three games. You kind of miss it – being at home rather than just practicing there. I'm excited and the kids are excited, but we all know it's not going to be an easy task. We have to come out and play. We will have to play even better than we did this week."

Quoting junior quarterback Lenorris Footman
On what was working for Alcorn in the second half
"Really we just came out and played. We were trying to play fast offensively and we were only worried about what we were doing as an offense rather than what they were doing on defense. We just had to play our game."

On what was said by the coaches at half
"They just wanted us to play and not let them hang around. All week we talked about what can happen when you let a team hang around and give them hope. We just wanted to come out strong in the second half and put them away."

On whether he felt 100 percent coming into the game
"Yeah I felt really comfortable. Anytime you have 10 guys around you like the guys I have it makes my job a lot easier."

On homecoming come up next week
"We're all really excited. Anytime you get to play on your home turf it's a blessing. We're excited to get back to Alcorn and start preparing for the next game."

Alcorn returns home for homecoming Saturday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. against Texas Southern. The Braves are going for their fifth straight victory over the Tigers after winning 65-13 last season, 40-25 in 2014, 20-13 in 2013 and 34-24 in 2012.

It marks the first of two consecutive home contests as Alcorn will host Southern at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. The Braves have a bye week Oct. 22.


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