LORMAN, MS. – In a thrilling back-and-forth affair, Alcorn State rallied late and controlled the fourth quarter to outlast Southern 37-28 to claim their third SWAC Football Championship in the past five seasons and 16th conference title overall on Saturday at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.
The Braves (9-3) will represent the SWAC in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl against MEAC representative North Carolina A&T, who also won their conference.
The historic match up will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15 from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. with a kickoff set for noon ET / 11 a.m. CT.
In front of a capacity crowd of 22,500 fans, Alcorn redshirt junior quarterback Noah Johnson combined for 282 yards as he completed 18-of-25 passes for 135 yards and ran 16 times for 147 yards with two rushing touchdowns. Johnson was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player.
Brelion Hollis tied the team-high in tackles with seven and also had a half a tackle for a loss of three yards with half a sack to lead the Braves. The junior linebacker from Monroe, La. was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the Game.
It also marked the first SWAC Championship title in three seasons for head coach Fred McNair, who has made it to the big game in all three seasons at the helm.
SWAC Newcomer of the Year De’Shawn Waller averaged a robust 11.1 yards per carry as the junior racked up a game-high 177 yards on just 16 totes. Waller also flirted with the record for most yards in a SWAC title game (Fellow Brave Darryan Ragsdale-191 rushing yards versus Grambling State in the 2015 championship game).
Waller came out on hot early as he broke through with two first quarter touchdowns, one on a 13-yard scamper with 8:35 remaining to a cap an eight-play, 75-yard drive in 3:51, and the second on a game-breaking 83-yard touchdown run where he burst by all defenders without hardly being touched with 6:03 left.
The 83-yard run was the second longest in SWAC Football Championship Game history. Ragsdale retained his record-holding 84-yard touchdown in the 2015 title game against Grambling State.