The Tigers of Grambling State lost what turned out to be a very exciting season-opener against Hampton by a one-point margin, 27-26, in the first-ever overtime game for Coach Melvin Spears.
The game, which was held at Legion Field in Birmingham, was televised nationally on ESPN2, and fans of both GSU and Hampton were able to watch from the comfort of their own homes.
The game also marked redshirt sophomore Brandon Landers’ first start since 2004, and first game action since his brother was tragically murdered two weeks ago.
The first half of the game was dominated by both teams defenses while the offenses sputtered, but both teams managed to reach the end zone before the first half ended. Going into the half the Pirates led by a slim margin 10-7.
The second half of the contest was predominately ruled by both team’s offenses particularly through the air, as both teams began to light the scoreboard up.
In a game that was marred with penalties, the Tiger defense managed to stop the Pirates offense on some key drives late in the fourth quarter. After stopping the Pirate offense and forcing a punt with four minutes left in the ball game, a fumble by Landers at the GSU 13-yard line on third and eight gave the Pirates the momentum they needed to tie the game at 20 sending the contest into overtime.
Kevin Beverly scored on a 10-yard pass from TJ Mitchell to open the overtime scoring for Hampton. Grambling State answered with Tim Abney’s 12-yard scoring pass from Brandon Landers, but Hampton’s Derius Swinton blocked Grambling State’s point-after attempt in overtime to preserve Hampton’s 27-26 victory in Saturday’s season-opening SWAC/MEAC Challenge.
The game featured last year’s champions from the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Hampton dominated on the ground, running for 203 yards while limiting Grambling to 30. Van Morgan ran for 82 yards and Alonzo Coleman gained 72 for Hampton.
Mitchell completed 6-of-16 passes for 85 yards with an interception. Princeton Shepherd was 8-of-11 for 120 yards, and Marquay McDaniel had six receptions for 113 yards.
Landers finished 21-of-41 for 273 yards, throwing touchdown passes to four different players. He was intercepted once.