FCS team of the week: Alcorn State thrives on big stage
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By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Alcorn State coach Fred McNair likes how his players focus amid the emotions and distractions that surround big games.
That was important on Saturday when Alcorn beat Southern 27-13 for its best win of the season. It was Homecoming Day at Spinks-Casem Stadium; the Braves retired the No. 9 of all-time great Steve McNair, Fred's late brother; and it was a rematch of last year's Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game.
"They know how to handle this big stage," said McNair, whose squad, the STATS FCS Team of the Week, improved to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the SWAC. "That's the thing that we as coaches remind them of, making sure that things don't get too big for them. They kind of keep themselves in good spirits. These guys were locked in and it's testament to those guys and how they prepare themselves to win every day on the practice field."
Junior quarterback Felix Harper fueled Alcorn in the matchup of division leaders. He finished with 287 yards of total offense and rushed for a touchdown and passed for two more as the Braves scored 24 unanswered points on their first four possessions of the second half. In five starts since earning the No. 1 job due to an injury to 2018 SWAC offensive player of the year Noah Johnson, Harper has thrown 18 touchdowns without an interception.
Conversely, Alcorn's defense had two interceptions in the win. Mikail Webb's pick in Southern territory set up one of the touchdowns and Malik Holbert had three of Alcorn's four sacks. The Braves limited the Jaguars to 284 offensive yards while beating them for the fourth straight time and ninth in the last 10 meetings.
HONORABLE MENTION: Campbell (49-47, 3-OT win over Gardner-Webb); Northwestern State (44-41 OT win over UIW); Robert Morris (24-20 win over Bryant); South Carolina State (27-19 win over Bethune-Cookman); Valparaiso (19-10 win over Stetson)
Updated October 27, 2019