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Comeback stalls in ‘Prime Time’ loss

By Gerald Nervis Jr.
On March 6, 2021

The Grambling State University football team held high hopes as they entered into the first football game of the spring season hosting the Jackson State Tigers. 

The contest was live broadcast on ESPN 3. 

Jackson State entered the game 1-0 coming off a trouncing of Edward Waters University 53-0 the week prior. 

The game was the second since NFL legend Deion Sanders took over the Jackson State’s head coach position. 

Going into the hyped matchup Grambling was noted to have a strong team as they normally do led by Head Coach Broderick Fobbs. 

The Tigers were riding a winning streak in the series over JSU going back to 2012. 

Sanders, also known as “Coach Primetime”, pumped up his players as the feeling of a hard fought high energy game preceded the contest. 

Both teams seemed to be very confident going into the matchup regardless of the leadership held on the other teams sidelines. 

“This game had the feeling of a playoff game the second the first players took the field for warmups,” Grambling student Jamir Gibson, who was in attendance at the game from warmups to the final whistle and had a few things to say regarding the matchup, said. “Guys were shouting at each other from opposing sides during stretches and almost started fights before the pads had even been put on for either side.” 

Gibson said Sanders was amped before kick off. 

“Man was a straight Electric factory,” Gibson said. “He might’ve been inciting fights with the Grambling sideline right beside his own guys. He was looking as if he was the one that was going to be putting on the pads and hitting for the 60 Minutes.”

It seemed like Grambling was going to control the game after the first 20 or so minutes, the quarterback Geremy Hickbottom and running backs CJ Russell, of Arcadia, La., and Keilon Elder, or Dallas, were controlling time of possession. 

Hickbottom ended the game with 81 rushing yards and one touchdown. He threw for an additional 237 yards and a touchdown. Elder had two touchdowns and 43 yards. Russell had 51 yards on 11 carries for an impressive 4.6 yard per carry.

“(They) got into the endzone when asked to while the defense was doing their job,” Gibson said. 

Jackson State and Sanders then came back and made a push in the second quarter with 20 unanswered points coming in a span of about six minutes of play. 

In fourth quarter Grambling mounted a comeback. 

“Grambling retook the lead back after a few good drives early in the fourth but gave it right back almost a minute later from almost a two-minute drill like drive from Jackson,” Gibson said. “Deion really did some good coaching calling out the offensive plays on that drive.” 

Grambling still had a chance after chance to win the game following Jackson State’s last touchdown. 

Senior linebacker Aubrey Miller Jr., the team’s leading tackler in the contest with 10 tackles, forced a fumble on the one yard line. 

But with just over a minute to go Grambling squandered its opportunity after fumbling the ball away sealing the win for Jackson.  

Sanders was ebullient after the win. 

“He was excited, he was yelling at his guys and praising them but he didn’t do anything crazy,” Gibson said. “Guess he got mature from the beginning of the game. Primetime did do his thing coaching wise that game.”

Jackson State players celebrate after scooping up Grambling's fumble. 

 

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