LORMAN, Miss. – Junior Felix Harper threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns Saturday to propel the Alcorn State University football program to a 42-17 victory over Savannah State on Homecoming at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.
“I just want to first thank God for giving me this opportunity, but also my coaches,” Harper said on his five touchdown performance. “The offensive line gave me time to get to my playmakers, my receivers, who made me look good at the end of the day.”
Alcorn (5-2, 3-0 SWAC) jumped on SSU (3-3, 2-0 SIAC) early with a 21-3 lead. After the Tigers came back with a pair of scores to cut the deficit to 21-17, the Braves scored the final 21 points of the game and shutout SSU in the second half.
“The biggest thing is that we came out and played the way we should have in the first half,” Alcorn State coach Fred McNair said. “We played fast on offense, scored and the defense played great. The second half we came out and did some things out of the ordinary; too many penalties for one, just selfish being that way. We just can’t come out and play that caliber of a game down the stretch because now it’s all about the SWAC conference. We’ve got Southern in two weeks. They’re a really good football team and we have to be prepared.”
The Braves, who won their fourth straight game and seventh straight home contest, held an edge of 488-262 in total yards, including a 324-87 disparity in passing.
Harper was 16-for-21 passing and did not throw an interception. Since taking over as the starter the last four games, he has thrown for 1,146 yards, 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.
The leading receiver for the Braves was sophomore Juan Anthony Jr. with 140 yards and a touchdown. Also breaking the 100-yard mark was senior Chris Blair with 108 yards and two touchdowns. Junior LeCharles Pringle hauled in 53 yards and two touchdowns.
On the ground, senior De’Shawn Waller rushed for 90 yards. Sophomore Trey Turner got into the end zone and finished with 35 yards.
Sophomore Keyron Kinsler wrapped-up a game-high 10 tackles. Seniors Daylon Burks and Allen Bruce both recorded interceptions, and junior Chris Monroe recovered a fumble.
The Tigers were led y D’Angelo Durham who rushed for a game-high 94 yards. D’vonn Gibbons threw for 87 yards and a touchdown.
The Braves will be off from competition next weekend as they have their first bye week. Their next game is against Southern at home on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. at Spinks-Casem Stadium. It’s a rematch of the 2018 SWAC Championship game where Alcorn won 37-28.
Alcorn got on the board first with a six-play, 75-yard drive on the opening series. The first play was a 16-yard pass to Anthony, and the Braves crossed midfield on a 28-yard spurt by Waller. Alcorn punched it in on a 14-yard pass to Pringle to lead 7-0 early.
The Braves also scored on their second drive to lead 14-0 at the xx mark. It was a quick drive as Harper aired it out to Blair for a 71-yard bomb and he went into the end zone untouched.
SSU started moving the ball late in the first. A 15-yard penalty, bundled with a 23-yard pass to Adunte Devereux moved the ball deep into Alcorn territory. However, the Braves limited the Tigers to just a field goal attempt as Giovanni Lugo knocked in a 26-yard to cut the deficit to 14-3.
The Braves answered early in the second. After an interception by Burks, Alcorn started with the ball at the SSU 47. Three plays later, Harper connected with Pringle for a 39-yard touchdown to increase the advantage to 21-3 with xx remaining.
The Tigers began to mount a comeback midway through the second. The key moment the flipped the momentum came on a 3rd-and-16 play. SSU was stopped short after a four-yard rush, but a 15-yard facemask penalty was called on the Braves which extended the series. The Tigers took advantage and scored on a 15-yard pass to Cameron White to trail 21-10 with xx to go.
On the ensuing Alcorn drive, the Braves were backed up after a holding penalty on the kick return. On the very first play, Harper was strip-sacked by Dameien Rodgers, and SSU’s Cam Brown dove on it in the end zone for a touchdown. The Tigers trailed 21-17 at the xx mark.
The Braves scored late in the half to regain control. They began with great field position after Bruce returned an interception to the SSU 13. After a holding penalty, Alcorn scored on a 3rd-and-21 play as Harper hooked up with Blair for a 24-yard score.
SSU had a chance to get points in the closing seconds of the half. It had the ball on the Alcorn 26 when Gibbons was under heavy pressure and tried to get rid of it, but was called for a 21-yard intentional grounding penalty which put them out of field goal range. The Braves led 28-17 at the break.
The Braves shutout SSU in the second half. The offense scored on their first play on an 84-yard home run pass to Anthony to make it a 35-17 game.
“We have to do our job,” Alcorn State safety Keyron Kinsler said. “We have to ‘cut our own grass’ and we knew we had to stop the run. I think we came out and we executed well in the second half more so than the first half and we found a way to win.”
Late in the third, Alcorn added-on. After a 19-yard rush by Waller and a 24-yard run by Turner, the Braves entered the red zone. They scored on a three-yard dash through the middle by Turner to increase the lead to 42-17 with xx left.
Sophomore quarterback Jyron Russell and senior Kevon Marsh saw action for the Braves in the fourth. The Braves marched down the field late in the game and moved to the SSU 35 after a series of runs by Marsh and sophomore Jonathon Bolton. Though, Alcorn ran out of time before it could score again as the click hit zero.
Source: Alcorn State; Photo courtesy of Larry Hubbard, Alcorn Sports Information
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