Southern’s inability to mount a long drive in the pouring rain was just one of many frustrations for the Jaguars on Saturday night against Alcorn State.
Turnovers, sacks, untimely penalties and a fumbled punt snap all contributed to a long night for Southern. On the other side, the sloppy conditions didn’t seem to faze Alcorn State as it rolled to a 48-7 win.
Ultimately, the conditions favored Alcorn’s style of play.
“The major factor was the weather because we couldn’t throw the football,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “We put as many people in the box as you can. When they can run the football, and you’ve got as many as you can in the box, that’s good on them.”
The differences were apparent from the start. Alcorn’s Marquis Warford took a sweep 78 yards for a touchdown on the Braves’ first play from scrimmage.
Southern then moved to a first-and-goal at the ASU 1, but Austin Howard was sacked on second down.
On third down, Alcorn recovered a fumbled handoff exchange.
The Braves promptly turned that chance into points, driving 82 yards in eight plays — all runs.
Another Alcorn sack caused a fumble by Howard early in the second quarter. The Braves recovered it, and needed just three plays to extend their lead.
With 11 minutes left in the half, Alcorn had outgained Southern in total yards 204-51, and the Braves led 21-0.
“We couldn’t really throw the ball like we wanted, so it was easy for them to put seven or eight in the box,” said Lenard Tillery, who was one of Southern’s bright spots with 132 rushing yards.
“We still had success, but when you have a deficit like that, it’s a little harder to come back.”
The Braves came in looking for a big performance from senior quarterback John Gibbs, but he left early in the first quarter with a leg injury. Like the rainy weather, the loss of Gibbs had no effect on Alcorn as Lenorris Footman filled in with a career night.
A backup who had previously seen mop-up action, Footman provided a spot-on impersonation of Gibbs, who had riddled Southern’s defense in four previous meetings. Even if healthy, Gibbs would have been hard-pressed to top Footman’s 214 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Footman didn’t throw much, but he connected on 3 of 6 passes for 71 yards and two more scores.
“I thought we handled the elements pretty good today,” Alcorn coach Jay Hopson said. “(Footman) was big. He came up big and showed just what kind of special football player that we know he is.”
Footman didn’t know he would play such a prominent role in this game, but he was prepared for the soggy turf.
“We knew the rain was going to be a factor, so all week we did wet-ball drills,” Footman said. “We just really prepared for these conditions. When it happened, we just went out and executed and didn’t worry about the weather.”
The Braves also didn’t need to worry about turnovers although the final numbers showed they lost four fumbles.
Alcorn recovered five fumbles to offset the four it lost. Perhaps even more important, most of Alcorn’s turnovers came after the issue had been decided.
The Braves had only one turnover through three quarters when they built a 41-7 lead.
“I thought we ran the ball well, and we had good ball security,” Hopson said.