Southern didn’t stop Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs Jr. the past four times he faced off with the Jaguars.
On Saturday, they didn’t have to.
Gibbs went down with an apparent lower leg injury on the Braves’ second offensive play from scrimmage Saturday night when Southern safety Dionte McDuffy took him down for a sack.
But the loss of Gibbs was hardly a speed bump for Alcorn’s offense. Backup quarterback Lenorris Footman sparkled on a stormy, muddy afternoon at A.W. Mumford Stadium, accounting for six touchdowns.
Footman threw for 71 yards and two touchdowns on 3-for-7 passing — but his feet did the most damage to a perplexed Jaguars defense, running for 274 yards and four scores — all of which are career highs for the sophomore. Only one of his scores came from within the red zone.
His longest was a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“I try to be prepared for whenever things like this happen,” Footman said. “Coaches always say, ‘You’re one play away, so you have to be prepared,’ so I was just prepared to execute.
“I’m just really thankful for (my performance), but all the credit goes to those other 10 guys out there with me.”
Gibbs spent the remainder of the game signaling plays into the offense despite Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson saying it was possible for him to return if necessary.
But Hopson remained confident in his backup passer, whom the coach says is every bit as effective Gibbs, the reigning Southwestern Athletic Conference co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Southern coach Dawson Odums had a slightly different take.
“(We) didn’t see anything,” Odums said of watching film on Footman. “(Footman) played in some mop-up duty, but he didn’t really do a whole lot.
“He’s a good runner, very good running the ball, and when you can run the quarterback like that, it does allow you some advantages.”
Odums said the SU coaching staff struggled to make adjustments against Footman as rain fogged up the windows of the coaches’ booth and made drawing on sideline whiteboards impossible.
Tough Tillery not enough
For the second consecutive week, Southern running back Lenard Tillery battled through sloppy field conditions to register career-high rushing totals.
Tilley tied his career high with 32 carries against Alcorn State only one week after running for 196 yards against Texas Southern as the Jaguars were forced to run the ball because of rain in both games.
“You can have 1,000 yards in one game and you’d think a guy would be happy about that, but whenever you have good stats, it doesn’t really matter if you lose the game,” Tillery said.
Human Jukebox out of order
Even the Human Jukebox couldn’t escape the weather Saturday, canceling its usual halftime show to preserve the already soaked field. Instead, the Southern band chose to play an assortment of songs from its place in the stands.
The game was entirely without music until the second quarter as both programs showed up late. Southern arrived at the start of the second period while Alcorn State waited on its bus until halftime.
A voicemail message left for Southern Band Director Nathan Haymer about why the band arrived to the game late was not immediately returned.
Justin Morgan returns
Wide receiver and cornerback Justin Morgan returned to the field for the first time in three weeks Saturday. An ankle injury kept him out against Prairie View, and pancreatitis sidelined him against Texas Southern.
Morgan played but did not record any statistics on either side of the ball.