Hornets Defeat Braves in OT to Spoil Homecoming

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It was Homecoming in Lorman, Mississippi as the Hornets of Alabama State (2-3, 1-1) entered Spinks-Casem Stadium looking to knock off the Braves of Alcorn State (4-2, 2-1) in this Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) matchup. After a disheartening lose at the hands of the Grambling State University Tigers (2-3, 1-1), the Hornets were desperate for a win. The Braves, who played spoiler last week after defeating Southern University (2-3, 1-1) during their Homecoming, were hoping that karma wouldn’t bite them this week.

The Hornets received the ball to begin the game, and they wasted little time marching the ball into Braves’ territory and punching it into the end zone on a 16-yard reception. The sold out stadium was quickly stunned by such efficiency displayed by Alabama State’s offense, and so little resistance from the Braves’ defense. With 12:40 remaining in the first quarter, the Hornets led 7-0. Alcorn State then converted two first downs on their ensuing drive but ultimately settled with a punt from Kicker Corey McCullough. After a first down incompletion from Alabama State, the Hornets’ Running Back Ezra Gray broke a 45-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 14-0. The Braves would then respond with a hybrid offense that lead to quick points on a 7-yard touchdown run by Senior Quarterback Noah Johnson. As the first quarter concluded, the Braves trailed 14-7.

The second quarter featured a defensive stand-off between both teams. This quarter progressed slowly thanks to a long offensive possession by Alcorn. As they reached the 12-yard line, the Hornets’ defense flexed their muscle with an interception to prevent the Braves from tying the game. Both defenses continued to play well throughout the second quarter which lead to no points being scored. As the matchup entered halftime, Alabama State continued to hold a 14-7 lead over Alcorn.

The second half began with the Braves again maintaining a pair of long consistent offensive possessions. But similarly to the first half, Alcorn continued to be unable to cap off the drives with points. Alcorn State’s defense in the third quarter was superb. Defensive Lineman Myshawn Smith recorded a huge sack which enthused the packed Homecoming crowd, and Defensive Back Leishaun Eagley seemed to be responsible for almost every Brave’s tackle.

The Braves were finally able to tie the game and end the two quarter scoring drought between both squads. At the 12:26 mark in the fourth quarter, Running Back De’Shawn Waller added to his already impressive game with a 1-yard touchdown to tie the contest at 14. Both defenses continued to play well heading late into the fourth quarter as the game remained deadlocked. With 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Braves got the football looking to execute a drive to win the game. Felix Harper entered the game at quarterback and began the drive with a beautiful 17-yard pass to Wide Receiver Dayall Harris. Waller then picked up a combined 34 yards on the next two plays to put Alcorn in field goal range. With two seconds remaining McCullough entered the game with a chance to top off Homecoming with a win by hitting a 28-yard field goal. McCullough’s kick was no good and the game entered overtime tied at 14.

Waller began the overtime period with an electric 15-yard run to seize some momentum back for the Braves. After a pair of incompletions from Alcorn State, the Braves were set up to take the lead in overtime with a 31-yard field goal. The field goal attempt was no good, and the Hornets took over possession of the football. Alcorn’s defense continued to shine, as Defensive Back Qwynnterrio Cole intercepted a pass to send the game into the second overtime. In the second overtime, the Hornets failed to make a 42-yard field goal to take the lead. Alcorn then took over possession of the football knowing that any points would win the game. The Braves however, missed another field goal to send the game into the third overtime. In the third overtime, Waller took the football and darted up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown to put the Braves up 22-14 after the two-point conversion attempt was successful. Alabama State now had to score a touchdown and convert the two-point conversion to force a fourth overtime. The Hornets began the drive with a first down as Alcorn’s defense seemed to be on their heels for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. Alabama State scored a touchdown, but had to execute the two-point conversion to tie the game. With the ball spotted at the three yard line, the Hornets converted their two-point conversion on a catch by Wide Receiver Tyrek Allen. Alabama State then got the ball back in the fourth overtime, and added more points with a field goal to take the lead 25-22. Alcorn State now needed a touchdown to win, or a field goal to send the game into the fifth overtime. After a penalty, and a few negative plays, McCullough nailed a field goal to send the contest into a fifth overtime tying the score at 25 . In the fifth overtime, the Braves were forced to attempt a 39-yard field goal which was no good, and the Hornets took the field knowing that any points would win the game. Sophomore Kicker Hunter Hanson hushed the still packed Spinks-Casem Stadium with a game winning 37-yard field goal making the final score 28-25, Hornets.

The Braves were lead by Waller who racked up 221 rushing yards on 28 carries and scored twice. Running Back P.J. Simmons added 104 rushing yards and a reception. Cole lead the way defensively with nine total tackles, and an interception.

Alcorn State will next be in action on Saturday, October 13th at 2:00 pm as they head to Huntsville, Alabama to Louis Crews Stadium to take on the Alabama A&M Bulldogs (2-3, 1-1) who will be celebrating their Homecoming.

D'Vennio Warner is a Graduating Senior Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Memphis, Tennessee. He will be the Sports Editor for The Campus Chronicle for the Fall 2018 academic semester.

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