LORMAN, Miss. — Southern coach Dawson Odums’ decision not to go for two points after a fourth-quarter touchdown appeared to backfire but ultimately didn't matter.
Saturday afternoon during Alcorn State's 39-24 victory in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game, Ladarius Skelton scored on an 8-yard run, giving the Jaguars a 23-22 lead with 8:43 left.
Odums had Cesar Barajas kick the extra point.
Alcorn answered with a scoring drive and a 23-yard field goal by Corey McCullogh to give the Braves a one-point lead.
The score would have been tied had Southern made the 2-point conversion, but Odums said he thought there was still too much time left on the clock.
“We did think about going for two, and we knew we would probably have to score again,” he said. “I think we could have gotten it to a field goal and been able to score some points. But I think we threw a pick-six or at least got them down the field, and that’s what’s tough.
"You look back on it and you’ll say a bounce here or a bounce there and this game might go a different way, but you’ve got to create those bounces.”
Southern might have benefitted from a replay official’s look at a few points during the game. Alcorn’s LeCharles Pringle appeared to fumble a punt out of bounds through the end zone, but the Braves were awarded the ball at their 2-yard line when officials ruled his forward progress had been stopped.
Southern wide receiver Hunter Register also appeared to catch a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone, but the play was ruled incomplete. In the fourth quarter with Southern trailing 25-24, Skelton appeared to make a first down with a third-and-14 scramble — but the ball was marked a yard short.
Southern went for it on fourth-and-one, but Jarod Sims was stopped for no gain, and Alcorn drove the ball for a touchdown and an eight-point lead.
Both teams had three interceptions with Tamaurice Smith, Jakoby Pappillion and Datrel Brumfield snagging one each against Alcorn quarterback Felix Harper, the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Harper entered the game with only for interceptions in 270 attempts. Alcorn State boosted its conference-best interception total to 21 and Southern quarterback Skelton’s season total to nine.
Southern nearly scored on the final play of the first half for the second consecutive week. Barajas, who made a 41-yard attempt in the third quarter, attempted a 50-yard field goal with the wind at his back and had plenty of distance but the ball faded to the right.
It was the longest field goal attempt of his career. Southern scored on a 1-yard TD run by Sims in the Bayou Classic on the final play of the first half.
Alcorn won its 17th conference title, its fourth in the last six seasons, and improved to 4-2 while playing in a record sixth consecutive title game. Southern is 3-4 in SWAC title games. It was the Braves' third title game victory against Southern. Alcorn leads the overall series 40-27-2 and has won 10 of the last meetings. Odums record dropped to 58-34 overall.
Southern game captains were safety Montavius Gaines, defensive back Benjamin Harris, guard Jeremiah Abby and offensive tackle Jodeci Harris.