HOUSTON – The Prairie View A&M University football team defeated Texas Southern 30-16 to win the Labor Day Classic for the third straight season.
The win by the Panthers (6-5 overall, 4-3) clinched the third straight winning season under third-year head coach Willie Simmons, a feat accomplished in the football program for just the second time since 1968 (2007-10). PVAMU defeats Texas Southern for the 11th time in the last 14 games.
“Like I’ve said before, when you play rivalry games, you throw all the records out the window, and everything that’s been done up to this week out the window,” said Simmons. “You have two teams that are playing for pride, and playing for bragging rights for the next 365 days. I tip my hat to Texas Southern. They came out and played a tough ball game as I knew they would. Our guys started slow and it took a while to get going. We finally started to do some good things, and get a lead. The defense played lights out, and sustained the lead for us. We did enough on offense and special teams, but defense was the difference maker tonight.”
Neiko Hollins completed 26 of 41 passes for 319 yards with three touchdowns. Josh Simmons had career highs in receptions (11) and receiving yards (153) with a touchdown reception, as the Panthers gained 429 yards total offense.
Defensively, PVAMU allowed only 190 yards, with 80 yards allowed on two of the 57 offensive plays while recording four sacks. Jalyn Williams had eight tackles, and Jalan Coleman six tackles, one sack, and 2.5 tackles for loss.
After a field goal gave Texas Southern (2-9, 2-5) a 3-0 lead with just over four minutes remaining until halftime, PVAMU scored a pair of touchdowns before intermission. Hollins moved the Panthers 54 yards in only four plays. Josh Simmons’ 36-yard scoring pass from Hollins put the Panthers ahead to stay at 7-3 with 2:21 to play in the second quarter.
Following a defensive stop, Prairie View A&M moved 83 yards in only seven plays over the final 1:03 to extend the lead. A 30-yard reception by Simmons and a 31-yard reception by Darius Floyd helped the Panthers move to the one-yard line. On the final play of the first half, Hollins’ one-yard scoring pass to Ronald Collins gave PVAMU a 14-3 halftime lead.
After TSU cut the deficit to 14-9 after three quarters, 16 straight points by Prairie View A&M put the game away. Zarrian Holcombe’s 12-yard scoring pass from Hollins ended an 11-play, 95-yard drive to extend the lead to 20-9 with 12:28 remaining. Following a 32-yard field goal by Zach Elder with more than seven minutes to play, Sta’Fon McCray’s one-yard scoring run with 2:20 to play sealed the win for Panthers.