Gibbs powers Alcorn State to SWAC title

Houston, TX ( - If there was one thing Southern University failed to do this season, it was stop Alcorn State's offense.

That's hard to do when Braves quarterback John Gibbs Jr. is on top of his game.

The Houston native had 365 total yards and passed for three touchdowns as Alcorn State beat defending champion Southern, 38-24, in its first appearance in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game Saturday at NRG Stadium.

Alcorn State (10-3) last won the SWAC title in 1994 before the conference staged a championship game. The Braves reached the 10-win mark for the first time since 1947.

They had defeated Southern, 56-16, in a regular-season meeting. Southern (9-4) hadn't lost since that Sept. 27 matchup, winning seven straight games.

But Gibbs was too good on a day he was named the SWAC co-offensive player of the year with Alabama State running back Malcolm Cyrus.

Gibbs, a 6-foot-6 junior, completed 20-of-30 pass attempts for 232 yards with one interception. He also carried the ball 15 times for 133 yards.

Southern overcame a 24-10 halftime deficit with two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the third quarter. But Alcorn State went back ahead 31-24 on Anthony Williams III's 4-yard run - his second touchdown - with 4:55 left in the quarter.

Gibbs then threw a 51-yard touchdown to Brandon Vessell in the first minute of the fourth quarter, extending the Braves' lead to 38-24. He threw a touchdown to Jordan Payne in the first quarter and then one to Billy Shed with three seconds left in the first half.

Willie Quinn had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown for Southern. Quarterback Austin Howard was 14-for-29 for 151 yards.