Grambling Wins Fourth Bayou Classic in a Row
Written by Roscoe Nance, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com Monday, 28 November 2011 08:06
Grambling State combined a suffocating defense with freshman quarterback D.J. Williams’ big-play passing to defeat Southern 36-12 Saturday in the 38th Bayou Classic at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
The victory, the sixth in a row for Grambling, clinched the SWAC West Division championship for the G-Men (7-4, 6-3 SWAC) and berth in the conference championship game. They will play Alabama A&M for the SWAC title Dec. 10 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.
Grambling’s defense wreaked havoc the entire game as the G-Men extended their Bayou Classic winning streak to four straight, their longest since 1983-86. The G-Men held Southern to 27 total yards in the first period and never let up. They had seven quarterbacks and knocked freshman starter J.P. Douglas out of the game with a concussion while holding the Jaguars (4-7, 4-5 SWAC) to 174 yards. Southern had minus 31 yards rushing and committed two turnovers on interceptions.
"The defensive performance was real impressive," Grambling coach Doug Williams said. "I would have to say it was dominating. You don’t go into a game expecting that kind of performance. You expect to find a way to win. They set the tone. They started in the first quarter and finished in the fourth. That’s the important thing. We came to play."
D.J. Williams, the coach’s son, connected with wide receiver Marion Louis on touchdown passes that covered 27, 34 and 12 yards.
“I thought D.J. showed a lot of composure," Doug Williams said. “He made some good throws. For a freshman in a game on such a big stage, he handled himself well."
Williams completed 11 of 17 attempts for 174 yards. He threw an interception, which Doug Williams said resulted from a receiver running the wrong pass route and bringing a safety into the area where the ball was thrown. Williams also lost a fumble when he was sacked.
“He has to have pocket awareness," Doug Williams said. “You can only be in there for so long before they come in there."
Sophomore running back Dawrence Roberts helped open things up for Williams’ passing. Roberts gained 195 yards on 36 carries. It was the fourth time that Roberts has rushed for 170 or more yards this season. He scored the G-Men’s final touchdown on a 32-yard run with 12:11 left in the game.
Grambling amassed 446 total yards, including 272 on the ground. But the G-Men didn’t play one of their better offensive games. They committed five turnovers, two of which led to touchdowns for Southern. The Jaguars’ first score came after Grambling returnman David Stuckman fumbled a punt on his 10-yard line in the second quarter. Their second touchdown came after Roberts fumbled at Grambling’s 19 in the third quarter.
Southern entered the game with an opportunity to create a four-way tie for first place in the SWAC West Division among the Jaguars, Grambling, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Prairie View A&M with a victory. If that scenario had developed, Arkansas-Pine Bluff would have advanced to the championship by virtue of the four-team tie-breaker.
“They took it to us,” Southern coach Stump Mitchell said.
Grambling’s victory capped an improbable run to the sixth appearance in the championship game for the G-Men since the conference went to a two-division alignment in 1999. They began the season 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the conference and had little margin for error as they pursued an unprecedented 22nd SWAC championship.
“I wish I could put my hand on it," Doug Williams said, searching for words to explain the G-Men’s turnaround. “I can say one thing. To see where we’ve come from, knowing how we got there, is something. Nobody pointed fingers when adversity set in. They worked; nobody complained. That’s why we are where we are."
Winston-Salem State 35, California (Pa.) 28: The Rams cruised to a 35-14 third-quarter lead and then held on for a home victory in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. Running back Nicholas Cooper rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns for the Winston-Salem (12-0), and quarterback Kameron Smith pass for 267 yards and two touchdowns. California (10-3) led 14-7 going into the second quarter, but the Rams scored 28 unanswered points to take control of the game as Smith threw two touchdown passes and Cooper scored on a pair of one-yard runs. Cooper’s six-yard run in the first quarter put the Rams ahead 7-0.
Old Dominion 35, Norfolk State 18: Freshman quarterback Taylor Heinicke victimized the Spartans’ secondary for 269 yards and five touchdowns as Old Dominion defeated the MEAC champions in the first round of the FCS playoffs. It was the first time the schools, which are separated by less than five miles, played each other, and each was making its FCS playoff debut. Quarterback Chris Walley, the MEAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns, but that wasn’t enough for the Spartans (9-3) to keep pace with the Monarchs (10-2).
Alabama State 30, Tuskegee 21: The Hornets started fast and then held on to defeat the Golden Tigers in the 88th Turkey Day Classic at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The victory for the Hornets (8-3) was just their fourth win in the last 16 Turkey Day Classics. The Hornets led 17-0 at the end of the first period after outgaining Tuskegee (4-6) 214-9 and holding the Golden Tigers without a first down. Running back Tim Clark led the Hornets with 143 yards rushing, and he scored touchdowns on a 17-yard reception and a one-yard run.
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