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Alcorn State backup QB Lenorris Footman makes it look easy

When Alcorn State starting quarterback John Gibbs Jr. suffered a leg injury after just two offensive plays on Saturday against Southern in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Braves coach Jay Hopson turned to his backup signal-caller for help. Stepping in for Gibbs, Lenorris Footman put on a show. Footman, a 6-foot, 181-pound sophomore, rushed for an impressive 274 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries in Alcorn State’s 48-7 victory. He had scoring runs of 44, 17, 30 and 60 yards.

Footman’s 274 rushing yards set a SWAC record for a quarterback. He connected on three of seven passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. This big-time performance earned Footman the ESPN.com HBCU Player of the Week as well as SWAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Obviously the Braves (5-2 overall, 4-1 SWAC) have a lot of talent under center. Gibbs, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior, was the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year last season and was named the conference’s preseason offensive player of the year. He led Alcorn State last season to its first SWAC championship since 1994.

When Footman took over for Gibbs on Saturday, the Braves experienced no drop-off in play. Hopson was pleased with the way his backup QB performed in an important conference matchup with the Jaguars (4-4, 4-2).

“Lenorris is a young man who is going to be a great football player,” Hopson said. “We’re very fortunate, when our quarterback went down, to have two players of that caliber. We’re blessed in that regard. He’s an excellent player. He’s a student of the game. He can throw. He can run. He can do it all.”

Alcorn State will host Prairie View A&M (6-2, 5-1) on Saturday. According to Hopson, Gibbs is day-to-day. If the Braves' starter can’t go against the Panthers, that won't be a problem.

SWAC honors: Alabama State linebacker Kourtney Berry was selected as the SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. Berry had 13 tackles as the Hornets defeated archrival Alabama A&M 35-20 in the 74th annual Magic City Classic at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

MEAC players of the week: Howard quarterback Kalen Johnson was chosen as the MEAC Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week. In his fourth start, Johnson threw for a career-high 219 yards on 14-of-20 passing with four touchdowns in Howard’s 55-9 win over Savannah State. He had 29 rushing yards and another TD on the ground. In the Bison’s first win of the season, he had 248 yards of total offense with five touchdowns. Howard strong safety Travon Hunt was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Hunt had a 31-yard fumble return for a touchdown in Howard’s win over Savannah State. He also had an interception and five total tackles.

Postseason implications: The matchup on Saturday between North Carolina A&T (7-1, 5-0 MEAC) and South Carolina State (5-3, 4-1) in Orangeburg, South Carolina, could prove pivotal in determining which team will represent the MEAC in the inaugural Celebration Bowl on Dec. 19 in Atlanta.

North Carolina A&T is the No. 1 HBCU team in the nation. After this week, the Aggies have two games remaining -- against Delaware State (Nov. 14) and rival North Carolina Central (Nov. 21). Both games are at home. South Carolina State's next two games will be on the road, against Norfolk State (Nov. 14) and Savannah State (Nov. 21). Saturday’s contest features two of the best HBCU players in the nation, North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen and South Carolina State defensive end Javon Hargrave.

And speaking of the first Celebration Bowl, the game, which will kick off the college football postseason, will include a special ceremony to recognize new inductees into the Black College Football Hall of Fame. The Class of 2016 includes Ken Burrough (Texas Southern), Jethro Pugh (Elizabeth City State), Otis Taylor (Prairie View A&M), Emmitt Thomas (Bishop College) and Aeneas Williams (Southern) as player inductees and Lloyd “Judge” Wells (Kansas City Chiefs scout, Texas Southern) as a contributor.

SBN Sports Black College Football Poll

1. North Carolina A&T

2. Grambling State

3. Alcorn State

4. Prairie View A&M

5. Tuskegee

6. Bethune-Cookman

7. North Carolina Central

8. South Carolina State

9. Southern

10. Bowie State

Boxtorow HBCU Football Media Top 10 Poll

1. North Carolina A&T

2. Grambling State

3. Alcorn State

4. Bethune-Cookman

5. Tuskegee

6. South Carolina State (tied)

6. Prairie View A&M (tied)

8. Bowie State

9. North Carolina Central

10. Virginia Union

Heritage Sports Radio Network, LLC Division I FCS Poll

1. North Carolina A&T

2. Grambling State

3. Alcorn State

4. Bethune-Cookman

5. South Carolina State

6. Prairie View A&M

7. North Carolina Central

8. Tennessee State

9. Southern

10. Alabama State

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