The SWAC West Division showdown between Grambling State and Prairie View A&M in the 90th State Fair Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Saturday turned into a shootout.
In the end, Grambling had the most big guns. The G-Men set a school scoring record and walked away with a 70-54 victory. Their point total eclipsed the mark of 68 that they scored against Prairie View in 1980. The G-Men had a 67-point game against Elizabeth City State in 1990.
Saturday’s game had enough scintillating plays to fill up a highlight reel. The teams combined for 1,136 yards total offense and 11 touchdown passes; each had nine plays from scrimmage that gained at least 10 yards and Grambling had two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
“There were a lot of highlights, a lot on both sides,” Grambling coach Lee Fobbs said.
The game featured a passing duel between two of the top quarterbacks in the SWAC, Grambling’s Johnathan Williams and Trey Green for Prairie View. They battled to a virtual statistical standoff. Williams threw for 429 yards and six touchdowns while completing 20 of 33 attempts. Green was 29-for-55 for 414 yards and four touchdowns.
Their air show stole the spotlight from Martez Carter, the Grambling running back nicknamed “Mr. Excitement.” Carter lived up to his moniker with four touchdowns in a breath-taking performance. Carter scored on kickoff returns of 88 and 100 yards and in addition to catching a 29-yard touchdown pass and running 10 yards for a score.
Grambling (2-2, 2-0 SWAC) and Prairie View (2-2, 2-1 SWAC) both entered the game unbeaten in conference play. Each scored on its first possession – Grambling on Williams’ 83-yard pass to Chad Williams and Prairie View on Green’s eight-yard pass to Nick Pitre. The G-Men reeled off 21 unanswered points and Prairie View was unable to recover. Chad Williams’ 36-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter gave Grambling a 35-13 lead. Chad Williams finished the game with seven catches for 193 yards.
Prairie View cut the Grambling’s lead to 42-34 on the final play of the first half on Tommie Robins’ two-yard touchdown reception. Damond Jackson intercepted a pass by Johnathan Williams and returned it 35 yards to Grambling’s two-yard line to set up the score. Williams scored on an 11-yard run and tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Chester Rogers in the third quarter, and Grambling regained command of the game for good.
Tenn. State 30, Florida A&M 14 – The Tigers scored 23 unanswered points and continued dominance of the winless Rattlers with a road victory. Tennessee State (3-1) trailed 14-7 early in the third quarter before rallying for its fifth consecutive victory against Florida A&M (0-4). The Rattlers took the lead when quarterback Carson Royal hit Kareem Smith with a 46-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the third quarter. The play was a wakeup call for Tennessee State. After the teams exchanged punts, the Big Blue’s offense went to work with a helping hand from Lady Luck. On third-and-15 from Florida A&M’s 38, quarterback Ronald Butler uncorked a pass intended for Dantwaun O’Neal.
A Florida A&M batted the ball away, but it bounced into the arms of Patrick Smith in the end zone for a Tennessee State touchdown that tied the score 14-all. Tennessee State’s defense, which held Florida A&M to 201 total yards, registered a safety when Devondric Nealy was tackled in the end zone for a 16-14 lead. Butler went back to Smith for a 32-yard touchdown and Erick Evans scored on a one-yard urn for Tennessee State’s final points. Running back Telvin Hooks was the workhorse on the Big Blue’s final drive. Hooks carried the ball six times for 64 yards. He finished the game with 117 yards on the ground.
Jackson State 34, Texas Southern 30 – The Tigers held on for their first win of the season with home victory in the W.C. Gorden Classic. Quarterback La Montiez Ivy completed 22 of 27 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns for Jackson State (1-3, 1-1 SWAC). Ivy connected with Devin Fosselman on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 4:17 left in the game for a 34-24 lead that appeared to seal the win.
However, Texas Southern (2-2, 1-2 SWAC) responded with a five-play, 57-yard touchdown drive to stay alive. Quarterback Averion Hurts, who either ran the ball himself or passed on every play, put the finishing touch on the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Griffin with 2:40 remaining. The point after touchdown was no good, and Texas Southern was left needing to score a touchdown to avert defeat. On the other hand, Jackson State only needed a first down to put the game away. The Tigers went three-and-out and Texas Southern remained alive. Jackson State finally iced the game when Teddrick Terrell sacked Hurts as time expired.
Norfolk State 24, Hampton 14 – The Spartans held quarterback David Watford in check en route to their first victory of the season in their MEAC opener. Norfolk State (1-3, 1-0 MEAC) held Watford, the leading passer in the MEAC, to a season low 180 passing yards on 21 completions in 44 attempts. The Spartans intercepted Watford three times and sacked him twice. Hampton (2-2, 1-1 MEAC) led 14-7 at the half, but the Spartans took command of the game in the period thanks to their defense and their ball-control offense.
Norfolk State drove 69 yards in 13 plays on its first possession of the third quarter before settling for a 24-yard field goal that made the score 14-10. The defense forced Hampton to go three-and-out on the Pirates’ first possession, and quarterback Greg Hankerson led the Spartans on another 69-yard drive. This time, the Spartans got the ball into the end zone as Hankerson connected with Isaac White on a 12-yard touchdown pass for a 17-14 lead. Norfolk State got the ball back on an interception, and running back Quintrell Chung finished off the Pirates with a two-yard touchdown run.
Bethune-Cookman 42, Savannah State 12
Morgan State 21, Howard 13
Norfolk State 24, Hampton 14
Ala. A&M 28, Ark,-Pine Bluff 9
Ala. State 45, Miss. Valley State 15