LORMAN, Miss. – TSU used all three phases of football to earn its first win over Alcorn State since 2011 and first in Spinks-Casem Stadium since 2010 as they spoiled another homecoming by a 34-27 margin.
Punt returner Chaunzavia Lewis set the Tigers up early as he picked up a punt near his own endzone and found a seam for a 49-yard return to the Alcorn State 44. The offense rewarded him for his efforts as Andrew Body had a big 18-yard run on 3rd-and-6 which set up an 18-yard pass to A.J. Bennett for the early 6-0 lead. Curtis Falkenburg nailed the PAT as the Tigers claimed an early 7-0 lead. Both teams traded punts after the early score but the Braves struck big as wideout Monterio Hunt broke free for a 65-yard touchdown. However, the PAT was missed as the Tigers led 7-6.
Isaiah Hamilton picked off a pass to open the second quarter but the Tigers couldn’t capitalize as they were forced to punt. ASU once again went with the big play as Juan Anthony, Jr. caught a 62-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was successful as the Braves jumped ahead 13-7 with 12:17 remaining,
TSU used a mix of the run and pass on its next drive as Body combined to rush for 28 yards along with a 21-yard pass to C’ing Blanton to get into the red zone. However, Falkenburg’s 36-yard field goal attempt sailed to the right due to the strong wind. On ASU’s next drive, the defense held serve as freshman Charles George sacked the quarterback at the TSU 46 to force a punt. TSU would take 3:18 off the clock but was forced to punt as the drive stalled at the ASU 38.
As the half came to a close, Allen hit on back-to-back pass plays of 18 and 14 yards to move away from ASU’s endzone as the ball reached the ASU 45. With 40-plus seconds left on 2nd-and-10, TSU cornerback Raheme Fuller read the quarterback’s eyes and raced 48 yards for the score and a 14-13 halftime lead after the PAT.
TSU took a dose of Jarveon Howard to open the second half as he combined to rush for 60 yards, including a 34-yard scoring run, as they fell behind 20-14. LaDarius Owens opened TSU’s first drive of the second half with a tough 26-yard run which moved the ball to the ASU 44. The Braves were forced to endure a Body-Owens combination to move the ball down the field followed by a pass to Randy Masters which gave TSU a first down at the ASU 20. The offense would stall unfortunately but Falkenburg came up big with a 37-yard field goal for a 20-17 deficit.
The defense once again proved its worth as they stopped ASU on a big 3rd-and-3 at the ASU 31. The play set up what TSU fans have been waiting on since game one as Lewis took the punt return on the hop and raced 73 yards to move TSU ahead 20-14 after the PAT.
From there, the defense took over as Jacob Williams made a huge play with a tackle for loss to open the fourth quarter which forced an ASU punt. The punt was shanked and the ball took a huge TSU bounce as the ball was placed at the ASU 41.
Owens and the offensive line took over on the next drive as they did all the work en route to a 10-yard Owens touchdown run with 12:38 left. Falkenburg’s PAT was good as TSU took a two-possession lead at 31-20.
With the homecoming crowd beginning to quiet, ASU tried its best to wake them up as Allen went deep on several plays which moved the ball to the TSU 14. But once again, the defense continued to set the tone with its backs against the wall as Cedrick Williams picked off Allen at the TSU 1 and ran 58 yards to the ASU 41.
The Braves tried to hang around as they picked off a pass on the ensuing drive at the TSU 2. The pick didn’t hurt as bad as the TSU defense made several big plays highlighted by Javius Williams’ tackle for loss and Gabe Smith’s fourth-down sack which turned the ball over on downs with 4:37 left.
With the ball at the ASU 19. TSU played it safe as Jacorey Howard ran it three straight times which set up Falkenburg’s 29-yard field goal and a 34- 20 lead.
TSU played it safe on defense and did its best to ensure ASU took as much time off the clock but the Braves found the endzone with 16 seconds left. However, the touchdown and PAT would be the last time they would see the ball as Eyan Means recovered the onside kick to set up victory formation.
Body rushed for a game-high 79 yards on 22 carries while passing for 97 yards and a touchdown. Owens followed with 74 yards rushing and a touchdown while AJ Bennett caught three passes for 26 yards. Jacob Williams had a team-high 10 tackles with two tackles for loss.
The win marks TSU’s best SWAC start since 2016 as the team has three SWAC wins. In addition to the wins, this also marks the first time TSU has won two true road contests inside an opposing SWAC stadium in a single season since 2017.
TSU will get a big dose of homecoming over the next three weeks with straight home games. The homestand kicks off with homecoming next Saturday inside Durley Stadium as TSU will host Lincoln University (CA) at 2 p.m.
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