LORMAN, Miss. – Winning its fourth consecutive game, the Alcorn State University football program erased a 14-point first quarter deficit to defeat Prairie View A&M 34-21 Saturday during homecoming at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.
The Braves (5-2, 3-0 SWAC) trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter when they came back and scored 34 unanswered points to take control. Alcorn led PVAMU (2-4, 2-2 SWAC) 24-14 at the half and 34-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Alcorn used both of its quarterbacks as senior Lenorris Footman threw for 138 yards, and sophomore Noah Johnson registered 90 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and two rushing touchdowns. Footman also ran for 38 yards and a score.
Senior Jalen Walker led the aerial attack with 100 receiving yards which more-than-doubled his previous career-high. He caught eight passes with a long of 22 yards.
Defensively, seniors O.J. O’Neal and Quintin Smith each wrapped-up seven tackles. Junior Trae Ferrell tallied a sack, two tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Panthers were guided by quarterback Neiko Hollins who tossed 291 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his touchdowns were caught by Khadarel Hodge who etched 132 receiving yards.
On the first series of the game, the Braves were faced with a pair of third downs when Walker caught passes of 12 and 14 yards, respectively, to move into PVAMU territory. However, on a 4th and 1 attempt, the Panthers got a stop on a rush to the left side at the 33-yard line to force a turnover on downs.
PVAMU came back with a quick four-yard drive to go up 7-0 which included a nine-yard touchdown pass to Darius Floyd on the left. The big play was a 45-yard pass to Floyd as he broke a tackle and scampered down the right side.
The Panthers went up 14-0 on their next series after a 46-yard touchdown pass was caught by Hodge on a seam route through the middle. The Braves forced and recovered a fumble on the drive, but were flagged for offsides on the play so PVAMU kept possession.
Early in the second quarter, Alcorn’s defense backed the Panthers up to their own one-yard line, which resulted in a punt and good starting field position for the Braves at the PVAMU 44. Footman completed a pass to sophomore Tavares Johnson for 16 yards, and a targeting penalty resulted in an ejection against the Panthers and put Alcorn at the eight-yard line. Noah Johnson came in and scrambled eight yards to the left for the touchdown to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 9:31 left in the half.
After a three-and-out by the Braves defense, Alcorn again started a drive in PVAMU territory at the 43. The Braves were situated with a 3rd and 22 when Footman found senior Charles Hughes over the middle for a gain of 24 yards and a first down. Footman followed it up with an 11-yard rush to the PVAMU 6. Noah Johnson re-entered the game and kept it himself on a quarterback-option play to the left for a two-yard touchdown run. It evened the score 14-14 with 4:16 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, a huge hit by freshman Nichel Herron popped the ball loose and junior Isiah Thomas recovered at the PVAMU 18. Alcorn took the lead 17-14 on a 39-yard field goal by sophomore Corey McCullough with 2:46 to go.
Another quick three-and-out by the defense got the ball back for the Alcorn offense with 1:29 left. The Braves extended the lead to 24-14 after a 12-yard pass from Noah Johnson was caught by Hughes in tight coverage on the left side. Hughes also made a 15-yard grab earlier in the series.
On the last play of the half, sophomore Javen Morrison recorded an interception and returned it to the PVAMU 16, but time ran out; Alcorn led 24-14 at the intermission.
To open the second half, the Panthers moved the ball to the Alcorn 34 when they were looking at a 4th and 5. PVAMU decided to go for it, but great coverage by Quintin Smith resulted in an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs.
On Alcorn’s first drive of the third quarter, Noah Johnson completed passes to Turner, junior Corbin Johnson and Walker to get the Braves to the red zone. McCullough nailed a 34-yard field goal to extended Alcorn’s advantage to 27-14 at the 8:42 mark.
The Braves added-on early in the fourth quarter after a 12-play, 86-yard drive resulted in a seven-yard touchdown rush by Footman. It increased the edge to 34-14. Junior P.J. Simmons started the drive with a pair of 10-yard rushes, and Turner followed by pounding it up the middle. Footman also competed passes on the series to Hughes junior Marquis Warford and Walker.
PVAMU had a quick response as a two-play, 58-yard drive ended with a 22-yard touchdown catch by Hodge. The first play was a 36-yard rush around the left by Jalen Morton. It made it a 34-21 game with 11:59 to go.
With 3:40 remaining, the Panthers had to go for it on a 4th and 13 when Ferrell came through with a strip-sack. Ferrell then returned it 49 yards, but fumbled at the one-yard line as the ball went through the back of the end zone for a touchback.
Up next, Alcorn travels to Grambling State on Saturday for a 2 p.m. start.