LORMAN, Miss. – Three student-athletes rushed for over 100 yards for the Alcorn State University football program as the Braves pulled away in the second half for a 47-22 win over Alabama A&M on Saturday at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.
Sophomore Corey McCullough drilled four field goals to break the single-season school record with 14. The previous record was 13 set by Wilfredo Rosales in 1980 and David McConnell in 2003.
Alcorn (6-3, 4-1 SWAC) rushed for 416 yards as a team. It was the most since 2015 when the Braves set the school record with 500; ironically, it was against AAMU (3-6, 3-3 SWAC) at home.
Junior P.J. Simmons led the way with a career-high 172 rushing yards. Sophomore quarterback Noah Johnson rushed for 124 yards, and senior De’Lance Turner posted 113. The trio combined for five rushing touchdowns.
Back to the kicking game, McCullough made field goals of 39, 38, 37 and 24 yards, respectively. He was one shy of the single-game field goal record set by Rosales in 1980. McCullough also punted six times for 309 yards for a 51.5 average and a long of 56 yards.
Defensively, senior Michael Brooks and juniors Brady Smith and Trae Ferrell each wrapped up seven tackles. Senior Nick Brown grabbed his first career interception.
The Bulldogs were guided by running back Jordan Bentley who ran for 134 yards and a touchdown. Isaiah Bailey hauled in 93 receiving yards and a score.
After a pair of defensive stops to begin the game, the Braves started moving the ball on their second possession. Johnson ran for 26 yards to the left on the first play of the series, and Turner followed it up with a 31-yard rush through the middle to get into the red zone. Though, Alcorn got pushed back after a 15-yard illegal block and a five-yard false start, and settled for a 24-yard field goal by McCullough. The Braves led 3-0 at the 7:14 mark.
Alcorn started its next drive with great field position at the AAMU 42 after the defense pushed the Bulldogs back after an intentional grounding penalty. The Braves faced a 3rd-and-2 when they handed it to Simmons who started to the left, cut back to the right and sped through the middle for a 33-yard touchdown. It put Alcorn ahead 10-0 with 4:52 left in the opening quarter.
On AAMU’s next drive, the Bulldogs were looking at a 3rd-and-9 when Brooks caused a strip-sack and freshman Qwynnterrio Cole recovered the fumble at the AAMU 20. McCullough tacked on a 37-yard field goal to push the advantage up to 13-0 with 2:49 to go in the first.
At the start of the second quarter, the Bulldogs were driving after a pair of third-down conversions. The Braves forced a pair of incomplete passes, but AAMU’s Nick Carden made a 39-yard field goal to make it a 13-3 game.
The Braves were situated with a 2nd-and-20 after a holding penalty when Simmons busted through the right and juked his way for a gain of 49 to the AAMU 23. It resulted in a 38-yard field goal by McCullough which pushed the edge back up to 16-3 with 12:12 left in the second quarter.
Alcorn had a chance to extend its lead after freshman Damien Anderson recovered a muffed punt at the AAMU 10, but the Bulldogs made a defensive stand and blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt.
Near the end of the half, the Bulldogs put together a long 10-play, 80-yard drive which resulted in a seven-yard touchdown pass to Bailey on a third-and-goal. It cut AAMU’s deficit to 16-10.
On the ensuing kickoff, Turner ran one back 93 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back after a holding penalty. Still, the Braves had an opportunity to put points up at the end of the half and McCullough drilled a last-second 39-yarder to put Alcorn on top 19-10.
After the Bulldogs were forced to punt on the opening drive of the second half, the Braves quickly scored on a 69-yard dash by Johnson. He broke a couple takes in the secondary and then could not be caught from behind as it pushed the lead up to 26-10 with 12:24 left in the third.
On Alcorn’s next possession, it kept the ball on the ground as Simmons shook off tackles for a gain of 49 yards on the right side. The Braves then decided to go for it on a 4th-and-2, and Johnson took off for a 16-yard touchdown run which made the score 33-10 with 7:40 remaining in the third.
The Bulldogs came back down the field after a 41-yard completion to Kalias Robertson, but were limited to a 41-yard field goal by Carden which was good. The Braves were up 33-13 with 3:40 to go in the third.
Alcorn quickly responded with five rushes, including a 43-yarder by Simmons for a touchdown. He ran for 51 yards on the drive to put the Braves on top 40-13 with 58 seconds left in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, AAMU went for it on fourth down deep in Alcorn territory, but a pass was broken up by junior Deago Sama and Brown. However, it pinned the Braves inside the nine, and after an offensive penalty, the Bulldogs were able to score a safety as Yurik Bethune and Averee Giles made the tackle on a rush in the end zone.
AAMU got the ball back after the safety, but the drive was squandered after a combined sack by Brooks and senior Ramonte Bell, followed by an interception by Brown. On the very next play, Turner broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run down the left side to propel Alcorn to a 47-15 advantage with 10:17 left in the game.
The Bulldogs scored late on a three-yard touchdown run by Jordan Bentley to make it 47-22. AAMU converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive including a sack that was flagged for a facemask call which extended the drive.
Up next, the Braves will play their final home game of 2017 when they host Mississippi Valley State at 2 p.m. Saturday on Senior Day.