Alcorn State University’s football team (0-0, 1-2) hosted the Cowboys from McNeese State University (0-0, 2-1) on September 16th at Spinks-Casem Stadium. This was the third game of the season for both teams and both played with a tenacity unmatched by many collegiate football programs.
The game kicked off just after 6:00 pm and both defenses looked well prepared early on. McNeese State’s defense gave up one first down on the opening drive then forced a punt 3 downs later. Alcorn’s defense took the field and matched the Cowboys’ effort, forcing a 3-and-out. As the Braves took the field for their 2nd offensive series Quarterback Lenorris Footman and Wide receiver Norlando Veals lead the offensive surge. Footman and Veals hooked up several times, converting multiple third downs as Alcorn moved the football inside the red zone. After a pair of runs by Running back DeLance Tuner, Footman found Veals in the corner of the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. The Cowboys’ offense took the field and were able to move the ball directly down the field despite a big sack by Alcorn’s Defensive back LeiShaun Ealey. After converting a 4th down play McNeese State punched the ball into the end zone to tie the game up at 7 as the first quarter came to a close.
Alcorn took over possession early in the 2nd quarter with the ball on the 39-yard line. Footman wasted no time as he threw a deep ball to his main target Veals. Veals was unable to make the catch but pass interference was called against the Cowboys, giving Alcorn the football inside the red zone. McNeese’s defense held firm and forced Alcorn to attempt a field goal. On the field goal attempt by Kicker Corey McCullough, the Cowboys were able to block the kick and regain possession on the 27-yard line. McNeese State’s offense seemed to be in-sync as they drove the football down the field and eventually scored their second touchdown to take a 14-7 lead. The Braves’ offense ran back onto the field and it was clear that Head Football Coach Fred McNair wanted to focus on the passing attack. Footman hooked up with several different targets and eventually threw a 69-yard deep ball to Wide receiver Marquis Warford, however, the point after attempt (PAT) was no good. On McNeese State’s ensuing possession, the Braves were able to force a punt due to a 3rd down sack by Linebacker Solomon Muhammad. The second half came to an end with great defensive series by both teams and the Braves headed into the locker room trailing 14-13.
McNeese received the ball after the half and marched down the field for a touchdown, however their PAT was unsuccessful. As Alcorn took the ball on offense for the first time in the 2nd half, their deficit was 20-13. A pair of runs from Turner and an incomplete pass by Footman forced the Braves to punt. McNeese received the punt and returned it 40 yards to give themselves excellent field position. After converting their second 4th down of the game, the Cowboys were inside the red zone. Alcorn’s defense held firm forcing a 4th down field goal attempt but the Cowboys’ field goal attempt was missed wide right and the Braves took possession of the ball on the 26-yard line. Despite consecutive defensive stops from Alcorn’s defense, the Braves’ offense was forced to punt yet again. Nevertheless, a sack by Alcorn’s Defensive lineman Kwanzi Jackson forced the Cowboys to punt again. Coach McNair acknowledged that his offense was struggling to move the ball in the 3rd quarter so he dialed up some trickery. Footman snapped the ball out of a shotgun formation, Turner received the handoff from Footman, Veals ran across the backfield and received the ball from Turner while Footman escaped freely in the back of the end zone. Veals threw a surprisingly accurate pass to Footman for an Alcorn touchdown tying the game at 20 entering the 4th quarter.
McNeese gathered the football on the ensuing drive and capped off a nine play 74-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Running back Benjamin Jones to regain the lead 27-20. Footman lead his offense back onto the field and on the second play he connected with Turner for a 70-yard touchdown pass to tie the ballgame at 27. On the Cowboys’ next possession they were able to drive the ball inside the red zone. The crowd at Spinks-Casem Stadium began to get worried as McNeese was about to score a go-ahead touchdown late in the 4th quarter. Cowboys’ Quarterback James Tabary threw an interception to Braves’ Defensive back Javen Morrison and Alcorn took possession late in the game. Alcorn’s offense looked better than it had all game during their final drive. Footman and Veals continued to hook up and gain yards down field. In addition, Turner was able to contribute on the ground with rushing yards. It looked as if Alcorn would score late and win the game until destruction struck. Footman escaped pressure, but threw a pass into double coverage as McNeese took possession on an interception. As Tabary lead the Cowboys onto the field with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game, the crowd was extremely nervous. Tabary dropped back to pass with 1-minute remaining in the game and threw a miracle pass into the air to 6’3″ Wide receiver Kent Shelby for a 40-yard touchdown. Alcorn would lose the game 34-27 in heartbreaking fashion.
Footman ultimately completed 27 of 45 passes for 424 yards and 3 touchdowns. Veals added to the offensive effort with 112 receiving yards and 1 receiving and 1 passing touchdown. The Braves will be in action again on the 23rd of September against the Southern University Jaguars (0-0, 1-2) at Spinks-Casem Stadium at 6:00 pm.