Tigers fight hard in road loss to Braves
LORMAN, Miss. | Marc Orozco booted a career-high 52 yard field goal and tied Brian Morgan as the Grambling State University All-Time Points Scoring Leader, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers gave up a late touchdown as Alcorn State captured a 33-26 victory in a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) game on Saturday at Jack-Spinks Stadium.
Grambling State (3-4 overall, 2-2 SWAC) took the opening kickoff and marched 78 yards as Geremy Hickbottom connected with Lyndemian Brooks for a 37-yard gain. Three plays later, Johntavious Robinson capped an 11-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to give Tigers a 7-0 advantage with 10:19 remaining in the opening quarter.
After forcing an Alcorn State punt, Grambling State went 44 yards in five plays as Hickbottom connected with Devohn Lindsey for 44 yards to set up shop at the Alcorn State 27. However, the Tigers were unable to move the ball and settled for a 44-yard field by Marc Orozco to extend the margin to 10-0 with eight minutes left in the first.
Grambling State’s defense forced another punt on Alcorn State’s next offensive possession and the Tigers put together a 9-play, 38-yard drive as Orozco booted a 39-yard field goal to push the lead to 13-0 with 3:19 remaining in the first.
On the ensuing kickoff, Javen Morrison returned the kick 60 yards to the Grambling State 30. Four plays later, De’Shawn Waller scored on a 12-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 13-7 with 2:17 left in the opening frame.
After a Grambling State punt, Alcorn State (6-2, 4-1) moved the football to the Tiger 9-yard line, but settled for a 26-yard field by Corey McCullough to trim the margin to 13-10 with 12:34 remaining in the first half.
Grambling State started its next drive at its own 4 after two penalties. Hickbottom carried the ball five yards, but coughed it up and gave the Braves first-and-goal at the GSU 9. Noah Johnson connected with Chris Blair for a 9-yard touchdown pass to give Alcorn State a 16-13 advantage, after the PAT was no good, with 12:06 left in the second.
On the next Tigers offensive possession, Hickbottom was picked off by Morrison, who went 34 yards to the endzone, to give the Braves a 23-13 lead with 11:16 remaining in the half.
Alcorn State got the ball to begin the second half and moved the ball to Grambling State 30 before Johnson was picked off by Kenan Fontenot, who returned the ball to the ASU 48.
The Tigers’ opening drive of the second half stalled at the Alcorn State 30 as Orozco connected on a career-long 52-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 23-16 with 6:51 remaining in the third.
After forcing a punt by the Braves, the Tigers set up shop at the Alcorn State 47. On third-and-16, Hickbottom got 27 yards on a pass to Devante Davis. Two players later, the redshirt sophomore quarterback was flushed out the pocket and ran 24 yards to the endzone, tying the game at 23 with 3:48 left in the third.
Grambling State’s defense forced another punt and the Tigers moved the ball inside the Alcorn State 10. However, Grambling State was unable to get into the endzone and Orozco tied Morgan’s record (325 career points) with a 40-yard field goal to give the Tigers a slim 26-23 lead with 12:03 remaining.
Alcorn State marched 60 yards in 14 plays as McCullough booted a 46-yard field goal to tie the game at 26 with 6:35 left.
Grambling State was unable to move the football and was forced to punt the ball with 1:42 left as the Tigers were flagged for catching interference, which set Alcorn State up at the Tigers 26.
On third on 20 from the GSU 36, Johnson connected with Dayall Harris for 33 yards and two players later, Blair caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to give the Braves a 33-26 lead with 12 seconds remaining.
It was a tale of two halves…
Grambling State led 13-0 with 3:18 remaining in the opening quarter. However, the next 18 minutes and 18 seconds belonged to Alcorn State as the Braves scored 23 unanswered points to take a 23-13 lead into the break.
The Tigers gave up a 12-yard touchdown run by De’Shawn Waller late in the opening quarter as the Braves trimmed the margin to 13-7.
Alcorn State scored 16 consecutive points, 13 off two Grambling State turnovers, during a 1 minute and 18 second span to turn a six-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
A fumble by Hickbottom turned into a Noah Johnson 9-yard touchdown pass to Chris Blair and on the next offensive series, Hickbottom was picked off by Javen Morrison for a 34-yard touchdown return.
In the second half, the Tigers battled back and tied the game at 23, before taking a 26-23 lead. But the Braves scored the final 10 points to grab the 33-26 victory.