Monday, November 14, 2016

Alcorn Dominates MVSU 61-7, Clinches Third Straight SWAC East Division Title

ITTA BENA, Mississippi – The Alcorn State University football team got off to a quick start and then poured it on Mississippi Valley State, 61-7 Saturday at Rice-Totten Stadium.

With the win and Jackson State's 27-20 loss to Alabama A&M, the Braves (4-5, 4-4 SWAC) clinched the SWAC East Division crown for the third year in a row. Alcorn will play either Grambling State or Southern in the SWAC Championship at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Dec. 3.

Freshman quarterback Noah Johnson had a historic outing, accounting for eight touchdowns which is an all-time Alcorn record and one shy of matching the all-time FCS record. He threw for seven touchdowns and 285 yards, and rushed for a touchdown and 65 yards.

Junior Norlando Veals turned in a monster performance with 183 receiving yards and three touchdown catches. Two of his touchdown receptions were of 52 and 51 yards, respectively.

Noah Johnson also threw touchdown passes to freshman Tavares Johnson, senior Collins Moore, senior LaDarrien Davis and freshman Demetrius Lewis.

On the ground, the Braves racked up 253 rushing yards. Junior De'Lance Turner led the way with 96 yards, while juniors Silas Spearman and Quadre Butler pitched in with 60 and 52 yards, respectively.

Alcorn accumulated 538 yards of total offense and held MVSU (1-9, 1-7 SWAC) to 162.

Defensively, Alcorn registered three interceptions including a 64-yard pick-six by freshman Javen Morrison. Also grabbing interceptions were sophomores LaShaun Ealey and Deago Sama.

Ealey got the Braves started early in the game with an interception on the one-yard line after the Delta Devils were threatening. A big gain of 20 by Turner followed by a rush of 15 got Alcorn out of its own end zone and all the way out to its own 43-yard line. After a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, the Braves faced a 3rd-and-17 when they connected on a deep ball to Veals for 41 yards to move to the MVSU nine-yard line. Alcorn scored on a nine-yard pass to Tavares in the corner at the 7:20 mark as he was able to leap up, make the catch and keep a foot in-bounds.

After a three-and-out defensively, the Braves got the ball back and moved to the MVSU 23-yard line after a 20-yard rush by Turner. On the very next play, Noah kept it himself on a quarterback-read option and scored on a 23-yard spurt to make it 14-0 with 3:40 left in the first quarter.

The Braves stuck again right before the end of the first quarter. After a first down rush by Noah moved Alcorn into MVSU territory, Noah connected with Veals on a deep 38-yard pass to make it 21-0.

Early in the second quarter, Sama pulled down an interception at the Delta Devils 48 after MVSU tried to test him one-on-one deep along the sideline. On the next play, Alcorn ran a reverse to Tavares for a gain of 20 at the MVSU 28-yard line. The Braves scored on a 23-yard jump ball pass to Moore as he outleaped the covering cornerback.

The Braves added on late in the second quarter on a 16-yard pass to Davis. The drive was set up by a 19-yard run by Spearman after the Braves began the possession on MVSU's half of the field.

Right before the half, Alcorn increased its advantage to 41-0 after Morrison scored on a pick-six. Morrison intercepted the pass and ran about 65 yards down the right sideline nearly untouched.

On Alcorn's first possession of the second half, it quickly found the end zone on a 51-yard pass to Veals. On the Braves ensuing possession, it was like dejavu as Noah found Veals again for a 52-yard touchdown pass to make it a 54-0 game with 10:00 left in the third quarter.

Alcorn's final score came at the end of the third quarter on a five-yard pass to Lewis. It capped off a nine-play, 73-yard drive that featured eight running plays from Spearman and Butler combined.

- The 54-point win was Alcorn's most lopsided victory since Oct. 5, 2013 when it beat Warner 57-0. It was Alcorn's largest win over a Division I opponent since Oct. 11, 2003 when it topped Prairie View A&M 66-0.

- The Braves remained unbeaten against the SWAC East Division this season after already defeating Alabama State 21-18 and Alabama A&M 42-19.

- Alcorn has now won seven consecutive games against SWAC East Division opponents dating back to last season.

- The Braves posted their fourth consecutive win over MVSU. Alcorn won 55-14 last year, 52-9 in 2014 and 35-28 in 2013.

- The Braves have rushed for at least 155 yards in eight of their nine games this season, including at No. 20 Arkansas. Alcorn has rushed for at least 250 yards in back-to-back games after running for 256 at Prairie View A&M. The Braves entered the game averaging 199.5 rushing yards per contest.

- Alcorn entered the game ranked 18th in FCS in sacks allowed, and will improve upon its standing as it did not allow a sack in the contest.

- Veals' 182 receiving yards marked a career-high, breaking his previous best of 106 set earlier this season against Texas Southern.

- Turner's 96 rushing yards marked a career-high, breaking his previous best of 90 set earlier this season against Southern.

- Alcorn's captains were seniors Deonte Brooks, Stacey Garner and Moore. MVSU won the coin toss and chose to receive.

Quoting Alcorn head coach Fred McNair
On getting off to a hot start
"That's one of the things we talked about all week. We wanted to start fast and then stay on them, and that's what we did. We prepared ourselves at practice every day to play this way. The guys had a great week of practice."

On the team clicking on both sides of the ball
"This is what we've been trying to put together the whole season. We've had a lot of injuries and all that stuff, but this is how we want to play on both sides of the ball. In the past, we had spurts of playing good offense and playing good defense, but it seems like it's all coming together as a team now. That's what I told the team, everything is coming together and we didn't get injured today. We just have to get back to the practice field now and start preparing for Jackson State next week."

On getting momentum heading into next week
"It's big. To win a game in this fashion makes practice a whole lot easier next week. Our team knows the magnitude of the game next week and we have to make sure we're doing all the right things at practice as both players and coaches."

The Braves will wrap-up the 2016 regular season against Jackson State at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium next Saturday. The 2 p.m. contest will also be Senior Day as Alcorn recognizes 14 student-athletes.

The Braves will be looking for their eighth consecutive victory over a SWAC East Division opponent dating back to last season.



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