LORMAN, Miss. — Alcorn State did not panic.
Trailing Southern by three points, the Braves had the football, a fresh set of downs and a chance to win.
Seventy-one yards and the Southern defense separated freshman quarterback John Gibbs and the Braves from their first home win of the season.
Six minutes and 42 seconds remained.
And although it took a 6-yard run on a critical fourth-down conversion by Alcorn sophomore fullback Alondrea Young — a graduate of Southern Lab — the Braves did just enough to beat the Jaguars 20-17 Saturday at Spinks-Casem Stadium.
“It kind of seemed like everything was going the way it was supposed to go (on that last drive),” Gibbs said. “Coach (Jay Hopson) has been telling me there’s going to be times you have to stay in the pocket and take some shots. And ... honestly, some of the passes I was completing, I didn’t even know the ball was being completed. I was just hearing the crowd screaming and yelling.”
As the Braves (2-4, 2-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) continued to feed off an anxious fan base starving for its first win in five games, Southern’s defense unraveled.
There was a 21-yard pitch and catch from Gibbs to Ladarrien Davis. There was a 16-yard run by Joe Price, followed by a 6-yard run by Arnold Walker that set the Braves up at Southern’s 1-yard line.
Then came Jordan Payne’s go-ahead touchdown. On the play, Payne dived into the end zone, snapping the Braves four-game losing streak and igniting a massive celebration along the Alcorn sideline.
“This win feels good, but it’s a better feeling because we beat Southern,” said Gibbs, who also picked up his first career win Saturday. “It all started with the offensive line. I was able to sit back there poised in the pocket and deliver the ball, and I let the receivers do the rest.”
Gibbs completed 15 of 24 attempts for 192 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
He was the only Alcorn quarterback to attempt a pass, although several others saw extensive action.
“With us running a four-quarterback system, you can’t prepare for all four of us,” Gibbs said, nothing that he, Payne, Darius Smith and Brandon Vessel all take snaps at quarterback. “Teams just have to game-plan on which one they think is going to play, and hopefully they guess right.
“But tonight, they guessed wrong.”
Payne had only six carries for 13 yards, but he got to Southern (2-3, 1-2) for two touchdowns. And on his last carry, only one thought crossed his mind.
“I’m thinking I better get in this end zone,” Payne said of the thoughts running through his mind as the ball was snapped. “All season, I’ve been getting some kind of positive gain at least. So with the ball on the 2-yard line, I’m figuring that there’s no way that I shouldn’t get in the end zone.”
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved