e_SDLqIt’s not good that I got two catches. That should never happen.” Zach Brown, Southern guard
LORMAN, Miss. — Southern’s 20-17 loss to Alcorn State on Saturday brought a sight no one expected to see: SU left guard Zach Brown running with the ball.
In the first quarter, quarterback Dray Joseph’s pass on second-and-7 was tipped at the line and deflected skyward. Brown looked up, saw the ball and instinctively snatched it before pushing forward for 2 yards.
After his first career catch, Brown got involved in a different way as well. After the Braves scored their go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, the Jaguars tried a desperation lateral play in hopes of reaching the end zone. But after the initial pass was completed, Brown was the only Southern player nearby to take a pitch.
“One of the other receivers got jammed up, and I just happened to be the only person there,” Brown said. “We needed to get the score, so we tried it anyway.”
Brown’s moments in the spotlight came during a game where it had been very uncertain he’d play at all. Brown injured his right arm in practice on Tuesday, and the original diagnosis of a torn bicep left his playing status very much in doubt.
But after being replaced by Allan Spry in practices, Brown’s injury was re-assessed as a strained bicep because of a hyperextension of the muscle. He was fitted for a brace and taped up heavily before taking the field against Alcorn.
Brown was still in pain, but he was able to keep playing even without the brace and tape late in the game — a good sign for an offense that can’t afford to lose starters off an up-and-down line.
“My arm is still in bad shape,” he said. “The brace wasn’t working out, so I took off the brace and all the tape and just had to deal with it.”
While the 6-foot-5, 319-pounder’s two excursions as a ball-carrier were interesting to watch and made for a rare thrill, he said that was also an example of what went wrong for Southern (2-3, 1-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) against Alcorn (2-4, 2-2 SWAC).
“It’s not good that I got two catches,” Brown said. “That should never happen.”
Hawkins still limited
Southern had hoped to get a big boost from a top playmaker on Saturday, but receiver Charles Hawkins was once again hampered by his hamstring injury.
The senior played often but wasn’t a factor, and he’s still looking for his first catch since leading the Jaguars with eight catches for 60 yards and a touchdown in the season opener.
“He hasn’t been 100 percent since his injury, but he’s getting better every week,” interim coach Dawson Odums said.
In Hawkins absence, counterparts Mike Berry and Lee Doss have stepped up. Those two finished with 107 and 50 receiving yards, respectively, with Berry notching SU’s lone offensive touchdown on a 75-yard bomb in the third quarter.
But Southern is still eager to get Hawkins back. He made his return last week against Florida A&M but only played sparingly, and the speedster was still missing his top gear against the Braves.
“Well, we hope (Hawkins is 100 percent) next week,” Odums said. “But it’s a hamstring. It’s going to be nagging, and you seem like you can go and feel like you can go, but once you get out there, it doesn’t take much for it to tighten back up.”
SWAC kings of Louisiana
Saturday’s win completed a rare feat for Alcorn, as it gave the Braves wins over Southern and Grambling (whom they beat 22-21 in the season opener) during the same year. ASU last accomplished that in 2006 and 1992.
Southern has now lost on three of its past four trips to Alcorn.