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Coaches discuss Alcorn game

by I.C. Murrell | September 27, 2022 at 3:50 a.m.
Jewel Fletcher of UAPB returns a kick against Alcorn State on Saturday in Lorman, Miss. (Special to The Commercial/Alcorn State University)

Alcorn State University had scored 14 unanswered points and taken a 24-21 lead on the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff going into the fourth quarter, but it wasn't until a few minutes later when a costly penalty against UAPB took away a chance to regain much-needed momentum.

"We played well at times," Golden Lions Coach Doc Gamble said Monday, two days after Alcorn came back to beat his team 38-21 in Lorman, Miss. "We played well until about 10:53 left in the fourth quarter."

That was when freshman Kirstan Rogers, a running back playing on the punt return unit for UAPB, leapt over an Alcorn player in an attempt to block a punt. The move drew a 15-yard penalty, and Alcorn kept its drive alive, although the Braves (2-2, 1-0 SWAC) eventually punted again.

"We don't teach that," Gamble said.

Lions quarterback Skyler Perry ran 26 yards for a first down to open UAPB's next drive and completed an 8-yard pass to Raequan Prince to convert a third down, but the Lions (2-2, 0-1) booted a punt away, and the Braves scored on their next two drives to put the game out of reach.

"We started some uncharacteristic things of us on offense," Gamble said. "We got some unforced penalties. We were able to play ahead of the chains most of the night, and then we started playing behind the chains. Their defense is a little more stingier."

Two former UAPB coaches, Cedric Thomas and Jonathan Bradley, led the Braves' defense. Thomas was the Lions' head coach from 2018-19, and Bradley was an assistant from 2019-21.

Gamble was an assistant at Alcorn in 2012.

"Hats off to Alcorn," Gamble said. "That was my first time back on the field since 2012, so that was nice to get back over there."

THE JARVEON HOWARD SHOW

The star of Saturday's game was Alcorn redshirt senior Jarveon Howard. The Syracuse University transfer was named SWAC Co-Offensive and Newcomer of the Week after rushing 24 times for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"They've got a man playing at running back on that Alcorn team," Gamble said. "We were able to play one of our best offensive games of the year. Some things you want to take away from them, and some things they're going to have. We knew Howard is a dude, but we didn't think he'd have the night he had. Some of that is attributed to him and the night he had."

BRAVE'S MOM, SISTER DIE IN ACCIDENT

The mother and sister of Alcorn defensive lineman Tyler Smith were among four people killed in a head-on collision north of Vicksburg as they headed home from Saturday's game.

Kamille H. Smith, 43, and Kirstin A. Lucas, 16, of Cleveland, Miss., were traveling from Lorman when the wreck occurred on U.S. 61 at the Warren-Issaquena county line, according to The Vicksburg Post. The newspaper reported that Smith's Nissan Altima collided with a Honda Accord driven by Thomas Williams Jr., 39, and Thomas K. Williams, 17, of Jackson, both of whom were also killed.

The Alcorn State athletic department issued a statement on Twitter before 2 a.m. Monday:

"Braves Family, tonight we mourn sincerely the recent loss of family members of one of our very own -- Tyler Smith of @AlcornStateFB. We ask that you please keep Tyler & his family in your prayers at this time, and respect the privacy of the family."

FIRST LOOK AT SOUTHERN

UAPB will return to the lower Delta region this Saturday to take on Southern University (1-2, 0-1), which took the weekend off after starting SWAC play with a 24-0 loss to Texas Southern University in Arlington, Texas.

UAPB (38) and Southern (34.3) rank second and third in points per game among SWAC teams. Both teams scored big against lower-level teams this season, as UAPB beat Division II Lane College 48-42 and NAIA North American University 76-3, and Southern shut out NAIA Florida Memorial University 86-0.

Former UAPB offensive coordinator Eric Dooley is in his first season coaching Southern, after leading Prairie View A&M University to last year's SWAC title game. The Jaguars' other loss this season was at Louisiana State University, 65-17.

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