The 2018 Alcorn State University Braves’ (0-1, 0-0) football season kicked off at 11:30 am Saturday morning on September 1st in Atlanta, Georgia at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Braves entered the game against the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) powerhouse Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0, 0-0). Alcorn State entered the season with a flurry of question marks as they lost key players to graduation on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech entered the match up lead by future ACC Hall of Fame Head Coach Paul Johnson, as he entered his 11th season as Head Coach for Tech. The Braves knew they were a heavy underdog entering the game as Georgia Tech payed Alcorn $375,000 to play host in their 2018 football opener.
The Braves’ opening drive of the 2018 season began with Senior Running Back PJ Simmons rushing for two yards. The short gain was a consistent theme for Alcorn State’s offense as the Yellow Jackets’ defense showcased their stingy mindset. The Braves’ defense however was unable to match Tech’s defense as Alcorn went three-and-out and Junior Corey McCullough began his busy day punting the football away. After the punt, Georgia Tech, who is famous for their dynamic Triple Option Running Attack, wasted no time showcasing it. After back to back 8 yard runs from the Yellow Jackets’ Running Back Jordan Mason, he was able to burst a 30 yard run for a touchdown to get Georgia Tech on the scoreboard. After the Braves were forced to punt again, the Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack started to flourish again until Junior College transfer from Monroe, Louisiana, Brelion Hollis, forced a fumble and recovered the football on Alcorn State’s 47 yard line. Despite the great Braves’ field position, Alcorn ultimately was forced to punt. Following the Braves’ punt, Tech and Alcorn swapped punts twice.
After a great punt from McCullough Georgia Tech’s offense sustained a 4 minute, 81 yard drive that ended with their second touchdown to give them a 13-0 lead over the Braves. Quickly, Alcorn was forced to punt again and Georgia Tech was soon in the end zone again, this time on a 5 yard touchdown run by Tech’s Dual Back KirVonte Benson. As the first half was soon coming to an end, Alcorn State’s Defensive Back Taurence Wilson was able to catch an interception and return it for 3 yards as the game entered halftime with a 20-0 Yellow Jacket lead.
After the ensuing second half kickoff, Georgia Tech was able to increase their lead to 27-0 as their rushing attack continued to tire the Braves. The second half went very similar to the first half as the Braves just couldn’t contain the Yellow Jackets’ high powered rushing attack. The game ended in a route as Georgia Tech defeated Alcorn State by a final score of 41-0. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 439 yards as the Braves only ran for 77. Alcorn also lost the total yardage 543 to 146.
Despite the week 1 loss Alcorn State has high hopes to win the Eastern Division in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) for the fifth consecutive season. Head Coach Fred McNair is optimistic about his group of players for the 2018 season. With starting Quarterback Noah Johnson, who has filled in during various spots throughout his 3 years at Alcorn, McNair believes Johnson is more than capable of being the captain of the offense. In addition, Simmons returns after being predominately a backup a season ago but was still able to rush for over 500 yards. The defense is lead by Solomon Muhammed, Quinten Smith, and Trae Ferrel. All three guys started the majority of the games a season ago for Alcorn.
The Braves will be in action again on Saturday, September 8th for their home opener at Spinks-Casem Stadium at 2:00 pm against the Louisiana College Wildcats (0-0,0-0).