Alcorn defeats Southern to win SWAC Championship
For the first time in 20 years, the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship trophy will make “The Reservation” its home.
The Alcorn State University Braves (10-3, 7-2) capped off their dream season at NRG Stadium, home to the National Football League’s (NFL) Houston Texans, with a 38-24 victory over the Southern University Jaguars (9-4, 8-1) in the SWAC season finale on Saturday in Houston, Texas. Both Alcorn and Southern attracted an enormous crowd, as 38,969 people flooded the enclosed stadium.
The Braves got off to a quick start with a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback John Gibbs Jr. to Jordan Payne that put them on the board in the first quarter. Alcorn kicker/punter Haiden McCraney added a 27-yard field goal later in the quarter that gave the Braves a 10-0 lead.
After a field goal by Southern University’s Greg Pittman in the second quarter, Alcorn running back Anthony Williams III sprinted for a 12-yard touchdown that increased the Braves lead to 17-3. Southern scored their first touchdown on an 86-yard punt return by wide receiver Willie Quinn that decreased Alcorn’s lead to one touchdown. Alcorn stopped Southern’s momentum when Gibbs threw a 3-yard touchdown to wide receiver Billy Shed, giving the Braves a 24-10 lead going into the second half.
Southern came out swinging in the third quarter with two touchdowns that tied the game at 24. Malcolm Crocket ended an impressive drive by the Jaguars with a 2-yard touchdown. Moments later, the Jaguar defense came up big when Craig Dennis scored a 9-yard touchdown off of a blocked punt. The Braves gained control of the game when Williams III rushed for a 4-yard touchdown that put the Braves ahead 31-24.
Alcorn put the game away in the fourth quarter when Gibbs completed a 51-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Vessell that gave the Braves a 38-24 lead.
Gibbs, who was named Offensive Most Valuable Player, completed 20-of-30 passes for 245 yards and threw three touchdowns. He also rushed for 132 yards on 16 carries, becoming the first quarterback in Alcorn history to rush for 1,000 yards.
Linbacker William Thomas II was named Defensive Most Valuable Player after recording nine tackles and a fumble recovery.
The Alcorn family would like thank head coach Jay Hopson, the coaching staff and the Braves football team for a wonderful season!