It was a familiar scene in SWAC football Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans as Grambling State defeated arch-rival Southern 30-21 in the 44th Bayou Classic.
The victory, the G-Men’s 10th straight this season – and 25th straight versus conference opponents — was the third in a row against the Jaguars and it gave them their third consecutive SWAC West Division championship.
The Tigers (10-1, 7-0 SWAC) will face East champ Alcorn State for the conference crown Saturday in Houston. It will be the third consecutive year the teams have met in the championship game. They split the previous games, with Grambling winning last year’s contest. It will be Grambling’s 10th appearance in the championship game since it was instituted in 1999, and have won it seven times. They have won 25 SWAC championships overall.
The G-Men claimed victory against Southern (7-4, 5-2 SWAC) in what has become typical G-Men fashion. Their defense got the ball for their offense, and their offense – led by quarterback Devante Kincade and running back Martez Carter knew exactly what to do with it when they got their hands on it.
The G-Men forced three Southern turnovers, giving them 29 takeaways for the season, and they sacked quarterback Austin Howard five times to push their season total to 29.
The G-Men served notice early that it was going to be one of those kind of games for Southern’s offense. Cornerback Ja’Terious Pouncey intercepted Howard’s pass on the Jaguars’ first play from scrimmage. Grambling converted the turnover into points seven plays later when Kincade scored on a seven-yard run.
Grambling led 17-7 at the half, but the game took an ominous turn for the G-Men in the second half. Southern rallied for a pair of touchdowns, scoring a pair of touchdown passes by Howard. His 20-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Catalon late in the third quarter breathed life into the Jaguars, and his eight-yard toss to tight end Dillon Beard with 5:02 remaining in the game put Southern ahead 21-20.
To make the situation direr, Carter, who ran for 92 yards, had left the game with a rib injury at the 3:11 mark in the third quarter. Carter emerged from the locker room after gulping down ibuprofen to dull the pain, and Grambling righted the ship.
Kincade led the G-Men on a six-play, 40-yard drive that ended with Carter scoring on an 11-yard run with 3:22 to play, and Grambling recaptured the lead 27-21. Marc Orozco tacked on a 36-yard field with 1:39 remaining for the final margin and G-Men’s winning streak continued.
“This one is sweeter,’’ G-Men coach Broderick Fobbs said. “Anytime you don’t have the momentum and you basically snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat like we were able to do. … I think when you look at our sideline and what happened immediately after they scored to go up 21-20, it wasn’t a flinch.’’
Alabama State 37, Edward Waters 3 – The Hornets ended a disappointing season on a high note with a victory in 94th Turkey Day Classic on Thanksgiving Day. The win was the fifth in the last six games for Alabama State (5-6) after starting the season 0-5. The Hornets’ dismal start precipitated the firing of third-year Coach Brian Jenkins. Their strong finish could bode well for Donald Hill-Eley, who replaced Jenkins, having the interim tag removed from his title and assuming the head coaching position on a permanent basis.
Alabama State took a 10-0 first-quarter lead against Edward Waters (1-10) and cruised to victory after leading 10-3 at the half. The Hornets methodically pulled away in the third quarter as Ezra Grey and George Golden scored on runs of four and 20 yards, respectively. Rob Pritchett scored on a three-yard run and Hunter Hanson tacked a pair field goals from 26 and 45 yards to complete the score.
Alabama State claimed the victory on the strength of its running game and a ballhawking defense. The Hornets generated 334 total yards with 218 of them coming on the ground. Their defense forced six turnovers and held Edward Waters to 138 total yards.
Prairie View A&M 30, Texas Southern 16 – The Panthers continued their dominance over the Tigers as they defeated their arch-rivals for the third straight time in the Labor Day Classic, which was rescheduled from Labor Day because of Hurricane Harvey. Prairie View (6-5, 4-3 SWAC) has won 11 of the last 14 games against Texas Southern (2-9, 2-5 SWAC). Quarterback Neiko Hollins completed 26 of his 41 pass attempts for 319 yards and three touchdowns for the Panthers.
Josh Simmons had 11 receptions for 153 yards, both career highs as Prairie View gained 429 total yards. Simmons’ 36-yard touchdown reception gave Prairie View a 7-3 lead with 2:21 left in the second period, and the Panthers never trailed again. The win gives Prairie View its third consecutive winning season under third-year coach Willie Simmons, a feat that has only been accomplished twice since 1968. The Panthers previously had three straight winning seasons from 2007-10 when Henry Frazierr III was coach and they won the 2009 SWAC championship.
Coaching Changes – The Black College football coaching carousel is going full throttle as seven jobs came open following last weekend’s games.
- Alabama A&M announced that James Spady won’t return for the 2018 season. Spady compiled a 15-30 record in four seasons. The Bulldogs were 4-7 overall this season and 3-4 in the SWAC.
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff will not renew Monte Coleman’s contract when it expires on Dec. 31. Coleman was 40-70 in 10 seasons with the Golden Lions, and he guided them to their first-ever outright SWAC championship in 2012 with a 10-2 record. Coleman was the longest tenured coach in the SWAC during the 2017 season.
- Delaware State won’t renew the contract of Coach Kenneth Carter when it expires on Jan. 31. Carter was 3-30 in three seasons, including 2-9 this season. The Hornets were 1-10 his first season and 0-11 in 2016. Delaware State also fired Athletic Director Louis “Skip’’ Perkins and named Mary Hill as his replacement on an interim basis.
- Florida A&M coach Alex Wood resigned the day after the Rattlers suffered a heartbreaking 29-24 loss to arch-rival Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic.
- Hampton coach Connell Maynor resigned a week after the Pirates announced they will leave the MEAC for the Big South Conference effective July 1, 2018. Maynor was 20-25 in four years at Hampton after compiling a 45-6 record in four seasons at Winston-Salem State and leading the Rams to three Division II playoffs. They reached the Division II championship game in 20012 and finished the season 14-1. Winston-Salem won three CIAA championships under Maynor and back-to-back Black College National Championships in 2011-12.
- Mississippi Valley State will not extend Rick Comegy’s contract. Comegy, the elder statesmen among SWAC coaches with 12 years of service in the conference at Mississippi Valley and Jackson State, led the Delta Devils to a 6-38 record in four years and didn’t win more than two games in a season. He won the 2007 SWAC championship at Jackson State led the Tigers to conference championship game in 2012 and ’13.
- Virginia Union fired Mark James after the Panthers finished the 2017 season with a 6-4 record. James, a former athlete and assistant coach at Virginia Union, was 26-15 in four seasons. In 20014, his first season at the helm, he led the Panthers to a 7-3 mark and their first winning record since 2009. The following season, the Panthers were 8-3 and reached the Division II playoffs.
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