Alcorn State falls short in Celebration Bowl

Alcorn State quarterback Lenorris Footman tried to lead the Braves to a second-half comeback Saturday afternoon, but it fell short as North Carolina A&T won the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl 41-34 at the Georgia Dome.

Behind by a touchdown, Footman led the march of the Braves’ offense down the field into the red zone to end the game. Footman threw on fourth-and-goal from the Aggies’ 9-yard line, but the Braves’ failed to punch the ball in the end zone.

“I thought we were going to win with that last drive,” Braves coach Jay Hopson said. “This has been a football team you can never count out. It doesn’t matter if we’re down 40-to-nothing, we seem to find a way with three minutes to go in the game to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Footman, a sophomore from Monticello, Fla., was 14-of-36 for 144 yards against the Aggies. He also led the Braves in rushing yards with 80 yards on 12 carries.

Going into halftime trailing 24-13, the Braves showed prowess on offense in the second half.

“In the first half, it was kind of out of sync. In the second half, we just kind of calmed down and just did what we did and it turned out to work,” Footman said.

After lack of offensive success in the first half, Footman threw back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter to wide receivers Tollette George and Brandon Campbell. Footman tied the score at 28-28, and then again at 34-34 on a fake field-goal play, respectively.

“He played (well) in the second half for sure,” Hopson said. “Lenorris has been an outstanding football player for us. He did some tremendous things today, helping us come back.”

Footman led the Braves, who returned 11 starters on offense entering the season, to nine wins and a 7-2 conference record this season.

“It’s preparation. Coming in every day, week-in and week-out working,” Footman said. “Going against out defense, they give us great looks every day. It makes me a better overall quarterback.”

Footman also played the role of receiver, scoring a touchdown in the third quarter off a 9-yard pass from George. After the snap, Footman handed the ball to George and ran toward the end zone to await George’s pass.

“I had to try my best to get open for the touchdown to tie the game,” George said. “I knew we needed that touchdown.”

In the first Celebration Bowl, the pride both teams showed lasted the full 60 minutes.

“This was a hard-fought football game. Those are always tough to lose especially a big game,” Hopson said. “At the end of the day, I though we did some good things offensively, but they did, too. Any time you score 34 with a chance to score 41, you can’t sit back and say you had a horrible day on offense.”

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