HOUSTON – For a while, it was looking like Alcorn State could very well be on its way to a third straight SWAC championship.
But after being down 17-0 at halftime, Grambling State outscored the Braves 27-3 in the second half to capture a 27-20 victory and its seventh SWAC championship game win.
Alcorn starting quarterback Lenorris Footman was back after battling injuries all season. He made his impact quickly, rushing for a 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter to put the Braves up 7-0. He wouldn’t score through the air, totaling 259 yards with one interception.
The Brave defense kept SWAC Offensive Player of the Year and former Ole Miss quarterback Devante Kincade quiet in the first half. He and the conference’s top-ranked offense could only muster 126 total yards in the first two quarters, while the Braves had 327. De’Lance Turner broke free for a 69-yard touchdown run to put Alcorn ahead 17-0 heading into the break. Turner finished with 126 yards on 16 carries.
The Tigers found their footing in the second half. A 29-yard touchdown pass from Kincade to Verlan Hunter and a one-yard rushing score from Lyndemian Brooks on the first two drives of the half made it a 17-14 game.
Alcorn could only add a field goal to make it 20-14 in the fourth quarter after Michael Ajumobi dropped what would’ve been a wide-open touchdown. Grambling continued to strike, though this time with a stroke of luck.
Kincade completed a pass to Martez Carter, who made a man miss and sprinted towards the end zone until being stripped one yard before scoring. The thing is, Dominique Leake was right behind him to catch it and go in for the game-tying score.
It was tied because the extra point was blocked. But the Tigers would take the lead on another Carter run, this time from 27 yards out and the ball fully in possession. He rushed for 136 yards while averaging 9.7 yards per carry and catching five passes for 66 yards.
The Braves would get opportunities towards the end to tie, including one final play at the Grambling 33 with a second to play, but they couldn’t make it happen. They finish the season at 5-6, their first losing record since going 4-7 in 2012.