Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
It’s Grambling and NC Central in Celebration II in Atlanta!
After giving their hard –core fans a scare in the first half of last week’s SWAC championship game in Houston Texas against Alcorn State, the Grambling State Tigers recovered with a spectacular second half to defeat the Braves, 27-20.
Grambling hard-core scared? Yes. This was the first time in the 2016 season that Grambling trailed anybody midway through a ballgame. The closest any of their 11 opponents came to tying the so-called “G-men” was an October 1 game against Prairie View A&M at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. At halftime, the score was tied 16-16. But in the second half, Grambling shut out PVAM 20-0 and won the ball game 36-16.
And not unlike that October match, the SWAC championship game saw defending champ Alcorn State take a 17-0 lead into the locker room at the halftime break. Many began to wonder if ole’ Grambling’s conference win streak was about to end and the extra week the Braves had to prepare for the crucial mix at NRG-Reliant Stadium would pay off and allow Alcorn (which by the way is pronounced ALL-CORN) to “threepeat” as SWAC champs and give them a second trip to Atlanta for Celebration Bowl II on December 17.
But Broderick Fobb’s Tigers apparently weren’t about to take that 335-mile trip back to campus without that championship hardware. Fobbs knew the old adage of “the third time is the charm” coupled with faith in his creator (which he unashamedly announced publicly following the win) would produce the winning combination. He marched the Tigers back onto the field, outscored the Braves 27-3 and beat Alcorn State 27-20 before 24,917.
”It’s huge,” Fobbs told ESPNU following the contest. “We figured out how to win and we endured. We also found out why Alcorn is the two-time SWAC champ. Our kids just never stopped believing. I thank God for tonite. Without him, we don’t get here.” The big win gives Grambling a trip to Atlanta for the second Celebration Bowl. It’s Grambling’s first trip to Atlanta since 1994 when they represented the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) that year at the Heritage Bowl (precursor to the Celebration). The Tigers, then coached by the legendary Eddie Robinson, lost to South Carolina State 31-27.
The Tigers will face the Eagles of North Carolina Central who ended their 2016 with an overall record of 9-2 and a conference mark of 8-0 which included that surprise 42-21 win over NC A&T . For the Eagles under third-year coach Jerry Mack, it will be their first trip to Atlanta since 2002. Still in Division II,they were hosted by Morehouse College who beat the Eagles 19-3.
- XTRA POINTS:Both Alcorn and North Carolina A&T, who played in last year’s Celebration Bowl were eliminated from a second trip by the two teams who will be in Celebration II. Alcorn was bested by Grambling and the Aggies were eliminated by North Carolina Central..
- Last year, a crowd of 35,528 attended Celebration I which was won by A&T 41-34. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference(MEAC) is 1-0 in the series……….
- December 17 will be a homecoming for six members of the Grambling football team who are from metro Atlanta. Seven players with NCCU are also from Georgia. Six of them are from the metro Atlanta area
SIAC BASKETBALL: Not surprising, Benedict’’s big 5 is first among the men’s programs of the conference’s eastern division. That is by virtue of their 2-0 conference record. The Tigers of South Carolina have a 2-3 overall mark. Morehouse is the winningest among the men with a 1-0 record but a 5-2 overall mark. Sitting in third place as of December 4 with a 2-1 conference record is Clafin. The Panthers are 4-3 overall. At 3-3, the Wildcat cagers of Fort Valley are 4th, followed by CAU at 4-4.
In the west, Central State holds down first place as of last weekend with a 2-1 conference and 5-3 overall mark.
Amongst the women Cagers, Claflin University is leading the east with a 3-0 conference and 7-2 overall record. Benedict follows with a 2-0 conference and 5-2 overall mark and Albany State rounds out the top three with a 1-0 conference and a 2-5 overall record. Just underneath the top 3 in the east is Paine College with an impressive 2-1 conference and 4-3 overall record. Interestingly, CAU’s ladies have yet to take on a conference opponent which accounts for their last place in the east but they are playing .500 overall at 3-3.
In the west, Central State’s Lady Marauders are first with a 1-2 conference and an overall 3-4 record. Second place Miles has faced no conference opponents as of last weekend, but holds down the best overall at 4-3. Next best is third place Spring Hill of Mobile, Alabama at 2-2. January 2 ,the conference games begin with six games scheduled in the women’s division. The conference showdowns toward the SIAC tournament for the men will commence January 2 with seven scheduled games……
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net