“I said all along, the most important thing is to ground Air Canada,
Cousins Doug Williams, the Grambling State coach, and Melvin Williams, coach of Alcorn State, both said their teams’ matchup in the Port City Classic in Shreveport, Louisiana wasn’t about them. It was Grambling vs. Alcorn, not Doug Williams vs. Melvin Spears.
In the end, however, it was mostly about Grambling’s defense as the G-Men held Alcorn quarterback Brandon Bridge in check and registered a 21-14 victory in a key SWAC matchup.
Bridge, who hails from Ontario, Canada, torched Grambling for 408 yards through the air last season. But the G-Men limited him to 175 yards passing and neutralized his big-play ability.
“I said all along, the most important thing is to ground Air Canada,” Williams said. “I think the defense did a tremendous job. The only time he got a big play off was when he got outside the pocket and the end went inside. The defense did a tremendous job containing Air Canada.”
One key stat for Grambling was 0-for-10 on third down conversions.
Bridge tossed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Lewis in the first quarter after escaping the Grambling rush. The score gave Alcorn a 7-0 lead.
Grambling responded with 21 consecutive points behind the play of freshman quarterback D.J. Williams, the coach’s son. The younger Williams completed 16 of 21 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
“The No. 1 thing we take away from this game is we gave a young quarterback a chance to grow up and understand what he needs to be successful – manage the game and no turnovers,” Doug Williams said. “His composure and poise made me proud. You didn’t see a young guy hurrying; you didn’t see a young guy rushing; you didn’t see a young guy forcing. He did it the way we wanted him to do it. I’m not going to say it was what we expected. You don’t know what to expect when you’re playing for the first time in a game like that and in those conditions.”
The game was played on a rain-soaked field, and wind and rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee made throwing the ball difficult.
Alcorn had a late chance to tie the score. The Braves marched to Grambling’s 30 yard line with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. On a fourth-and-one, Cliff Exama and Joshua Gentry stopped Alcorn running back Reuben Duckworth for a three-yard loss.
Grambling is the preseason pick to win the SWAC West Division championship after finishing second to Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M each of the previous two seasons. Williams, who is in the first season of his second stint as coach of the G-Men, says defeating Alcorn is a considerable boost to his team’s championship hopes.
“It was a big game for us, with a new staff, changes in the offense and changes in terminology,” Doug Williams said. “Being successful against a team like Alcorn is huge, knowing they had a seasoned, veteran quarterback. For the defense to do what it did … It was a confidence-builder.”
Bethune-Cookman 63, Prairie View A&M 14: Quarterback Jamarr Robinson was spectacular in his debut for the Wildcats in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Robinson lead them to the highest point total and the most lopsided victory in the seven-year history of the MEAC-SWAC Challenge. He passed for 250 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 30 yards and two scores in a little more than a half to give Bethune-Cookman the MEAC a 5-2 edge in the Challenge. The Wildcats sprinted to a 42-7 halftime lead, tying the school record for points in a half in the process. They also generated 318 of the 500 total yards that they gained in the game during their first-half onslaught. The Wildcats’ defense was equally as impressive, forcing six turnovers. Linebacker Reggie Sandilands and safety returned fumble recoveries for touchdowns.
Tenn. State 33, Southern 7: The Tigers rediscovered their running game, rushing for 342 yards en route to a resounding home victory in the John Merritt Classic. Sophomore running back Trabis Ward led the Tigers with 141 yards on the ground. Tennessee State lost its last six games of the 2010 season after running back Preston Brown suffered a torn ACL that sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Brown had rushed for 786 yards in five games, four as the starter. Dante’ Thomas, who replaced Brown last year, gained 87 yards rushing on 13 carries and scored a touchdown against Southern.
Hampton 21, Alabama A&M 20: The Pirates rallied from 17-0 deficit in the second at for a non-conference victory in the Chicago Football Classic at Soldier Field. Ian Davidson blocked Chance Wilson’s 34-yard field goal attempt as time expired to preserve the victory. Wilson had kicked field goals of 41 and 34 yards earlier. Running back Antwon Chisolm scored the winning touchdown on a four-yard run with 9:53 left in the fourth quarter. Kaderius. Chisolm led all rushers with 141 yards. Kaederius Lacey led Alabama A&M with 116 rushing yards.
Lane 17, Edward Waters 10: The Dragons ended the second-longest losing streak in NCAA Division II with their first victory since the final game of the 2008 season. The Dragons had lost 21 straight games, second only in Division II to Lock Haven which has lost 32 straight and opens the season Saturday against Millersville. The win also snapped an 11-game road losing streak for Lane.
Stillman 16, Shaw 13: The Tigers relied on their running game to control the ball and upset the defending CIAA champions in a nonconference game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Stillman rushed for 171 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground. The Tigers of the SIAC attempted just seven passes and completed five for 41 yards.
Albany State 37, Savannah State 34
Delaware State 24, VMI 21
Grambling State 21, Alcorn State 14
Lamar 58, Texas College 0
Lincoln (Mo.) 35, Avila 3
Central Michigan 21, South Carolina State 6
Eastern Michigan 41, Howard 9
Chowan 43, Livingstone 7
Rutgers 48, NC Central 0
Georgia State 41, Clark Atlanta 7
Bowie State 28, Assumption 7
Saint Augustine’s 30, Catawba 5
Jackson State 42, Concordia-Selma 2
Cheyney 21, Lincoln (Pa.) 19
North Carolina A&T 38, Virginia University of Lynchburg 7
Virginia Union 27, Benedict 0
Stillman 16, Shaw 13
Johnson C. Smith 64, West Virginia State 27
Norfolk State 37, Virginia State 3
North Carolina Pembroke 33, Fayetteville State 27
Winston-Salem State 22, Elizabeth City State 17
Alabama State 41, Miss. Valley State 9
Langston 19, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 12
Florida A&M 28, Fort Valley State 22
Tenn. State 33, Southern 7
Towson 42, Morgan State 3
Kentucky State 39, Central State 21
Morehouse 47, Miles 9