No. 10 Texas Southern 41, No. 1 Grambling State 34, OT
Texas Southern scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then stopped Grambling on 4th-and-goal from the two to preserve a 41-34 comeback win that gives the Tigers the lead in the SWAC West Division and puts it in the driver’s seat to represent the division in the Dec. 11 conference championship game with one game left in the regular season.
TSU quarterback Arvell Nelson, who had struggled early, scored the go-ahead touchdown in the first possession of overtime on a 10-yard run. On its possession, Grambling advanced to the two before the TSU defense stuffed GSU running back Frank Warren on fourth down setting off a wild celebration by the TSU faithful.
TSU (7-3, 7-1 SWAC W), tenth in the latest Black College Sports Page ranking, can clinch the West Division title and championship game berth with a win in Houston next week over Arkansas-Pine Bluff or a Grambling loss in its final game in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 27 vs. Southern.
Grambling (8-2, 7-1) had entered the contest as the No. 1 team in the Black College Sports Page ranking, the Sheridan Broadcasting Network poll and the BASN/Box To Row poll. The G-Men were also ranked 20th in the latest FCS poll. TSU was unranked.
It was the biggest victory yet for head coach Johnnie Cole, a TSU alum who has patiently and methodically built the Tigers into championship contenders in his three years at the helm. After watching cross-town rival Prairie View win its first championship in 45 years last year under head coach Henry Frazier, Cole, the former Lane head coach and offensive assistant at Tennessee State and Alabama State, is in position a year later to lead TSU to its first conference title since 1968.
“This is all about Texas Southern,” said a jubilant and defiant Cole, who was shedding tears of joy on the field after the victory.
Nelson, who rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 177 yards and one score, threw three interceptions that enabled Grambling to take a lead after trailing early.
The see-saw contest saw Grambling score 10 first-quarter points on a Zeltan Riazzo 39-yard field goal that opened the scoring and on a 64-yard pass from QB Anthony Carrothers to wideout Kiare Thompson. TSU scored in the first quarter on Marcus Wright’s four-yard run and in the second quarter on Nelson’s one-yard TD run and a 38-yard Robert Hersh field goal to lead 17-10.
GSU’s Edward Patherson tied the score at 17 at the 9:55 mark of the second quarter when he returned the kickoff following Hersh’s field goal 95 yards to paydirt. On TSU’s next possession, GSU’s Derick Wilhite intercepted a Nelson pass and returned it 39 yards for a TD to put the G-Men up 24-17.
Riazzo added a 31-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer to give Grambling a 27-17 lead at the break.
The only third quarter score came on Carrothers’ one-yard run with 4:11 left in the period. It came after Nelson, after driving TSU deep into GSU territory and facing 1st-and-goal at the Grambling 5, was picked off in the end zone by GSU’s Bruna Foster, who returned it 97 yards to the TSU 3. Two plays later Carrothers took it in for the score. After Riazzo’s PAT GSU had what seemed to be a comfortable 34-17 lead that they took into the fourth quarter.
But TSU’s comeback started on its final possession of the third quarter.
Taking over at its own 17 with 1:54 left in the quarter, the Tigers, who finished the night with a whopping 342 rushing yards, covered the 83 yards on ten running plays and Nelson’s big 42-yard hook-up with Joseph Anderson.
Martin Gilbert covered the final yard for the score. Hersh’s PAT pulled TSU to within 34-24 with 12:40 to play.
Following the kickoff, Grambling drove into TSU’s red zone, reaching the 19 before lining up for a Riazzo 36-yard field goal attempt. A botched snap however led to a 30-yard loss giving TSU the ball back at its own 49.
The Tigers needed just three plays to reach paydirt - a 26-yard run by Wright on first down, a five-yard pass from Nelson to Anderson followed by Nelson’s 23-yard TD throw to Richard Samuel in the left corner of the end zone - that pulled TSU within 34-31. Hersh’s PAT came with just over seven minutes left.
Grambling returned the ensuing kickoff to its own 41 but after losing one yard on first down, two consecutive false start penalties left it facing 2nd-and-21 at its own 30. Two yards were gained on the ensuing downs causing GSU to punt the ball back to TSU, who took over at its own 37 with 4:23 left.
From there, Nelson engineered a 13-play drive that carried down to the Grambling 3 with 18 seconds left. Hersh knocked thru a 20-yard field goal to tie the score at 34. After the kickoff, Grambling would run only one play before sending both teams to the extra period.
On TSU’s possession in the overtime starting at the 25, Nelson came out throwing, hitting Willam Osborne on first down for 12 yards. Wright ran for three yards before Nelson scored on a bootleg around right end from ten yards out. Hersh added the PAT.
On Grambling’s possession, Carrothers was sacked on first down for a five-yard loss. After an incompletion, he broke lose for a 20-yard run that gave the G-Men a first down at the TSU 10. Warren ran for three yards on first down before Carrothers threw an incompletion in the end zone on second down. On third down, Carrothers rushed to the two setting up the final play.
For the game, TSU amassed 541 yards of total offense and held the ball for nearly 38 minutes. The TSU defense held Grambling to 220 total yards, only 61 rushing yards on 14 carries for Warren, the SWAC rushing leader who came in averaging 152 yards per game.
Wright led the TSU rushing attack with 171 yards on 32 carries while Anderson had a team-best six receptions for 93 yards.
No. 2 Bethune-Cookman 35, Howard 20
Undefeated BCSP No. 2 Bethune-Cookman, outgained and outplayed by a one-win Howard team, survived a second-half comeback by the Bison to claim a share of the MEAC regular season title and clinch the league’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.
Bethune-Cookman finishes the season next week at the Florida Classic in Orlando vs. Florida A&M. BCU would claim the MEAC title outright with a win and gain a share of the title with FAMU and SC State if it loses and SCSU wins its final game Saturday against N. C. A&T.
The Howard win guarantees the Wildcats the league’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs based on the conference’s tie-breaking procedure.
B-CU (10-0, 7-0 MEAC) ran out to a 21-0 halftime lead and appeared on its way to another dominating rout of a conference opponent. The Wildcats scored first quarter touchdowns on Jonathan Moment’s one-yard run and Eddie Poole’s 15-yard reception from QB Matt Johnson. Jarkevis Fields recovered a Howard fumble in the end zone at the 5:55 mark of the second quarter for the ‘Cats final first-half score.
But the Bison (1-9, 0-7) got back in the game behind quarterback Terry Bradden who threw a third quarter touchdown to Daley Gunter and an early fourth-quarter TD toss to Willie Carter to pull his team within 21-12. It would stay that way until B-CU’s Reggie Sandilands picked off a Bradden aerial and returned it 24 yards for a score to give the Wildcats a 28-12 lead with just 2:44 left.
Bradden would come right back and lead Howard to another score, hooking up with Brandon Drayton on a 24-yard TD with 1:18 left to pull the Bison within 28-20.
Following the score, Howard’s on-sides kickoff was returned by Poole 37 yards for the final TD.
Howard finished with 389 yards of total offense, racked up 23 first downs but had five turnovers. B-CU, who came into the game averaging 469 yards per game, was held to 196 total yards and12 first downs. The Widcats, who average a league-best 253 rushing yards per game, were also held to just 76 yards in 30 attemps by the Howard defense.
B-CU quarterback Matt Johnson, among the nation’s leaders in passing efficiency, was 18 of 26 for 120 yards but was picked off twice.
Bradden finished with 15 completions in 31 attempts for 299 yards and 3 TDs.
No. 3 Albany State idle
No. 4 SC State 32, Morgan State 10
Quarterback Malcolm Long threw two touchdown passes and Blake Erickson kicked three field goals as BCSP No. 4 SC State (8-2, 6-1 MEAC) downed Morgan State Thursday night in Baltimore.
Long completed 17 of 31 passes for 209 yards with first-half touchdown throws of 47 yards to Tyler McDonald and 37 yards to Thomas Williams. Erickson opened the scoring with a 20-yard first quarter field goal and booted thru third quarter kicks of 32 and 36 yards.
Asheton Jordan, who scored on a 13-yard run in the second quarter, led the Bulldogs ground attack with 88 yards on 13 carries. McDonald had seven catches for 100 yards.
MSU freshman QB Delonte Williams was 16 of 25 for 171 yards.
Florida A&M 17, No. 5 Hampton 12
Florida A&M went up early on BCSP No. 5 Hampton and held on for a key win that sets them up for a shot at the MEAC regular season title next week vs. Bethune-Cookman.
FAMU running back Phil Sylvester scored on a 79-yard first-quarter run to stake the Rattlers to an early 7-0 lead. FAMU QB Austin Tranor scored on a 5-yard second-quarter score and placekicker Trevor Scott kicked thru a 25-yard field goal just before halftime. Hampton’s only first half scores came on field goals of 22 and 39 yards by Rodrigo Hernandez.
Hampton wideout Javaris Brown’s 29-yard reception from David Legree with 9:28 to play was the only second half score.
Sylvester ran for 129 yards on 24 carries while Tranor completed 14 of 31 passes for 156 yards. Legree threw for 299 yards (18 of 38) but threw two interceptions.
No. 6 Shaw, 14, Virginia State 7
(CIAA Championship Game)
South Division champion Shaw claimed its fourth CIAA title in seven years, third in four years under head coach Darrell Asberry, holding North Division champ Virginia State to 136 total yards while piling up 412 yards of total offense but still needing a fourth-quarter touchdown off a turnover to come away with the win in the league’s title game in Durham, N. C.
Despite the yardage discrepancy, the game was tied at 7 when Virginia State’s Sean Smith muffed a punt at his own four-yard line with 12:37 to go in the game. Shaw (9-2) recovered at the VSU 6 and needed just two plays to reach paydirt, scoring on back-up quarterback Quinton Odom’s 2-yard plunge. Caleb Reid’s PAT gave the Bears a 14-7 lead with 11:59 left.
After the kickoff, attempting to tie the score, VSU (8-3) went on its longest and most sustained drive of the day, going 54 yards in 11 plays – all on running plays – to reach the Shaw 12. From there on third-and- 8, quarterback Jared Battle’s pass into the end zone was picked off by Shaw’s Gerald Kennedy. It was Battle’s third interception of the day, the second time he was picked off by Kennedy and gave the ball back to the Bears with 5:14 to play.
VSU would get the ball back twice in the final minutes following Shaw punts but was unable to get a first down.
In the first quarter, Shaw had 10- and 11-play drives that covered a total of 126 yards but was stopped both times on downs in VSU territory. The only first half score came on Shaw’s second possession of the second quarter when the Bears drove 84 yards in 11 plays and scored on a Raymond Williams one-yard run. Reid added the extra point to give the Bears a 7-0 lead at the 6:11 mark that they took into the break.
VSU, never finding an offensive rhythm, struggled to just 70 first-half yards and just two first downs.
When the Trojans did get on the board, it was thru their defense. Late in the third quarter after a Shaw drive stalled at the VSU 16, Reid’s 33-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Clifton Haney and scooped up by Alfred Ngauja and returned 76 yards for a score. Justin Parker’s PAT knotted the game at 7 with 5:38 left in the third period.
Battle completed just 5 of 19 passes on the day for 46 yards with the three picks. The Trojans also lost two fumbles. Rahoo Walker led the VSU rushing attack with 37 yards on six carries. VSU linebacker Jeremy Pruitt amassed 17 tackles to lead the Trojan defense.
Williams was Shaw’s workhorse, carrying 33 times for 117 yards. He was named Shaw’s championship game MVP. Starting quarterback Kevin Atkins, who went out with an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter, was 16 of 28 for 183 yards with one interception.
Shaw, who came into the game ranked sixth in the Div. II Super Region I, will likely gain one of six playoff spots from the region. The Bears will anxiously await Sunday’s 3 p.m. NCAA selection show to see if, where and when they will play. The selection show will be carried live on ESPN News.
No. 7 St. Augustine’s idle
No. 8 Fort Valley State idle
No. 9 Tuskegee idle
OTHER KEY GAMES
Alabama State 21, Southern 10
Alabama State stopped a two-point conversion attempt by Southern quarterback Jeremy McGInty in the final seconds to preserve a close win and punch its ticket to represent the East Division in the Dec. 11 SWAC Championship Game in Birmingham.
Southern, trailing 21-10 at the break, held ASU scoreless in the second half while scoring in the fourth quarter on a 34-yard William Griswold field goal with 11:59 left before pulling within two points on Sylvester Nzekwe’s one-yard run with 16 seconds to play.
McGinty was stopped however on the PAT attempt.
The Hornets (7-3, 6-3 SWAC) got two first-half touchdown passes and a three-yard touchdown run from quarterback Devin Dominguez.
ASU will face either Texas Southern or Grambling in the title game.
Casey Therriault, Jackson State - 22 of 30, 331 yards, 5 TDs
K. J. Black, Prairie View A&M - 18 of 23, 329 yards, 3 TDs
David Legree, Hampton - 18 of 38, 299 yards, 1 TD, 2 ints.
Terry Bradden, Howard - 15 of 31, 299 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int.
Anthony Glaud, Delaware State - 20 of 36, 289 yards, 3 TDs
Josh Boudreaux, Ark.-Pine Bluff - 23 of 46, 263 yards
Mslcolm Long, SC State - 17 of 31, 209 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int.
Michael Johnson, NC Central - 17 of 28, 196 yards, 2 TDs
Brandon Bridge, Alcorn State - 18 of 34, 180 yards, 3 TDs
DeAngelo Branche, Norfolk State - 30 carries, 212 yards, 3 TDs
Marcus Wright, Texas Southern - 32 carries, 171 yards, 1 TD
Arvell Nelson, Texas Southern - 21 carries, 146 yards, 2 TDs
Phillip Sylvester, Florida A&M - 24 carries, 129 yards, 1 TD
Sheldon Barnes, Savannah State - 19 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD
Tony Green, Alabama A&M - 22 carries, 118 yards, 1 TD
Raymond Williams, Shaw - 33 carries, 117 yards, 1 TD
Ledarius Lacy, Alabama A&M- 16 carries, 116 yards, 1 TD
Raymond Webber, Ark.-Pine Bluff - 10 rec., 140 yards
Javaris Brown, Hampton - 8 rec., 140 yards, 1 TD
Geovine Irvine, NC Central - 9 rec., 138 yards
G’Alonzo Milton, Alabama A&M - 3 rec., 119 yards
Willie Carter, Howard - 4 rec., 117 yards, 1 TD
Daley Gunter, Howard - 4 rec., 111 yards, 1 TD
Troy McDonald, SC State - 7 rec., 100 yards, 1 TD
Shaun Nelson, Prairie View A&M - 4 rec., 98 yards
Joseph Anderson, Texas Southern - 8 rec., 93 yards
Justin Wilson, Delaware State - 3 rec., 92 yards, 2 TDs