LORMAN, Miss. – The 28th season at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium kicked off with a 45-7 victory for the Alcorn State University football program over Mississippi College on Saturday.
Freshman Niko Duffey turned in a breakout performance for the Braves (1-1), which included three touchdowns. He rushed for 138 yards and a pair of scores, and caught 38 yards and a touchdown.
Alcorn pulled away early in the game and raced out to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The lone touchdown for MC (0-1) came in the closing minutes.
The Braves outgained the Choctaws 465-242 in total yards, including a rushing advantage of 324-117. Alcorn was 10-of-16 on third downs, and held MC to a 3-of-12 mark.
Senior quarterback Noah Johnson finished 15-of-23 in the air for 132 yards and a touchdown. He spread it around and connected with nine different receivers. Johnson also rushed for a touchdown.
Five of Alcorn’s six touchdowns came on the ground. Other scores included a 22-yard run by senior De’Shawn Waller, and a 2-yard spurt by sophomore Jonathon Bolton.
Alcorn’s front line defensively dealt with MC’s triple-option rushing attack as senior defensive lineman Darrell Henderson wrapped-up a game-high seven tackles. The Braves forced two turnovers in the game as junior Chris Monroe and sophomore Keyron Kinsler recovered fumbles.
After both teams punted on their opening series, the Braves started to march down the field on their second drive. It started with a 12-yard rush by Waller, and he followed it up with an 18-yard reception to move the ball to the MC 29. From there, the drive was quickly capped by a 29-yard sprint by Duffey to give Alcorn a 7-0 edge at the 8:44 mark.
On the ensuing MC drive, a botched pitch attempt resulted in a fumble and Monroe jumped on it at the MC 28. Johnson found junior LeCharles Pringle for a 13-yard reception, and senior Nigel Wood for an 11-yard catch to move near the goal line. Alcorn went up 14-0 on a two-yard run by Bolton with 6:32 left in the first.
Near the end of the first quarter, the Braves were setup at their own 45 after a 14-yard punt return by senior Javen Morrison. Alcorn moved into Choctaw territory on a 15-yard grab by freshman Kendric Brown, and then a big 45-yard run by Duffey increased the lead to 21-0 with 2:18 to go in the opening quarter.
Midway through the second, the Braves put together a 10-play drive that featured a 10-yard catch by freshman Akeem McNair. A 22-yard touchdown rush by Waller made it a 28-0 game.
MC had a chance to put points on the board near the end of the half. The marched down the field to the Alcorn 26 after a series of runs, but were stopped short on a 4th-and-6 play as they opted to go for it and junior Nichel Herron made the stop after a gain of one.
The Braves tacked on a 39-yard field goal by senior Corey McCullough on their first drive of the second half to lead 31-0. It came after Alcorn started with great field position as Kinsler scooped up a fumble at the MC 25.
Alcorn added another tally early in the fourth. It came on a long 15-play, 84-yard drive that featured runs by Duffey, senior Kevon Marsh and sophomore quarterback Jyron Russell. The big play of the series was a 20-yard rush by Duffey to move into the red zone. Johnson kept it himself from three yards out as Alcorn led 38-0.
Alcorn’s final score came midway through the fourth. Marsh recorded five carries and a reception to move the Braves into MC territory, and Duffey finished it off with a 26-yard run through the right side to make it a 45-0 game with 7:19 left.
The Choctaws scored on their final possession of the game. They faced a 3rd-and-17 from the Alcorn 38 when they were stopped one-yard short of the first down, but a personal foul on the Braves extended the drive and set them up at the Alcorn 11. The touchdown came on a 10-yard pass from DeAnte’ Smith-Moore to Rondell Cole in the middle of the end zone.