WJTV – North Carolina A&T held off Alcorn State 41-34 in the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl that kicked off bowl season in wild fashion.
Junior Aggie running back Tarik Cohen ran for 295 yards and three touchdowns, with all three of those scores being longer than 70 yards, to lead his team to victory.
The Braves never led in this game, getting down into a 24-6 hole early in the second quarter. At that point, senior Braves defensive back Anthony Williams Jr. had scored their only touchdown with an 84-yard punt return in the first quarter to respond to sophomore Aggie wide receiver Khris Gardin’s 74-yard touchdown return that started the scoring off.
That’s when Cohen started to break loose. He busted off touchdown runs of 74 and 83 yards to give the Aggies a 21-6 lead.
Down by 18 in the second quarter, Alcorn found some life after sophomore quarterback Lenorris Footman found sophomore running back Arron Baker for a 10-yard score to make it 24-13 at halftime. The Braves then used some trickery to get within a touchdown after senior wide receiver Tollette George took a handoff before throwing back to Footman for a nine-yard score in the third quarter.
When the Aggies had a chance to take a 30-20 lead, Alcorn came up with a blocked field goal to keep the deficit at seven. On the ensuing drive, Footman found George from 11 yards out to tie the game at 27 with 12:57 left in the fourth quarter.
Both teams would continue to trade blows in the final quarter. The Aggies drove 81 yards to retake the lead before the Braves pulled another trick out of their sleeve. On fourth down at the Aggie three, they faked a field goal as senior wide receiver Brandon Vessell found sophomore wide receiver Brandon Campbell for a game-tying touchdown.
And that’s when Cohen stepped in again. He broke free for a 73-yard touchdown to put the Aggies ahead 41-34. He averaged 13.4 yards per carry as the Aggies outrushed the Braves 366-104. North Carolina A&T also outgained Alcorn 543-260.
Jay Hopson’s team started its chance at a game-tying drive at midfield with 1:28 to play and no timeouts. Footman drove the Braves down to the Aggie nine, before ultimately sailing a pass on fourth down that ended it.
The Braves finish the season at 9-4 while the Aggies finish 10-2.