It was supposed to be the game that put GSU ahead of the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff for the lead of the SWAC West. Instead, GSU now shares a lead with UAPB after a exciting competition on Saturday.
After a stunning 33-28 loss in Little Rock, fans were completely shocked. After all, GSU did appear to be in control, after blocking a field goal and returning it for a touchdown on special teams.
However, the UAPB Lions stayed in the game, knocking down field goals and scoring TDs. By halftime, it was anybody’s ball game, with Grambling leading 21-17. After the half, GSU had many miscues that cost them the game.
One of the most devastating plays came in the third quarter with 12:10 left on the clock. UAPB’s Dedrick Poole ran the ball from his own three-yard line into the Tigers’ endzone, leaving UAPB fans rocking the stadium for the rest of the night.
GSU’s offense also seemed lost when they had the ball with eight minutes left and a third-and-nine down. A false start penalty pushed the ball back, making it third-and-14. Then another one pushed it back even further for a third-and-19. Then, a penalty for delay of game pushed the ball back to a third-and-24.
Landers was then finally able to get the ball off and launched a pass to Henry Tolbert, only for it to be caught by UAPB’s Amp Boone. All of this led to a pass from UAPB’s Chris Wallace to Jason Jones, who took it to the house.
These were only a few of Grambling’s problems, as the defense gave up 246 yards rushing alone. Martel Mallet and Poole led the rushing attack with 143 and 102 yards, respectively. Both finished with a touchdown apiece.
The defense also gave up 162 yards passing, allowing Wallace to find Jones for 85 yards and two TDs.
The offense started out slow, with Brandon Landers going 0-for-1 in the first quarter. However, he went on to throw 167 yards in the second quarter. Landers then threw for 133 yards in the second half, finishing with 300 yards and two TDs.
Clyde Edwards also stepped up and provided 145 yards receiving, catching both of Grambling’s passing TDs. Ab Kuuan also helped catching three passes for 48 yards.
Kuuan also led the rushing attack for Grambling, finishing with 74 yards and one TD. GSU’s offense was not as productive UAPB’s offense. GSU finished with 396 total yards and 21 first downs, while UAPB finished with 406 yards and 13 first downs.
The loss hasn’t deterred Coach Melvin Spears, who still expects to be in Birmingham in December.
“With the parity we have in our league, a two-loss team will get to the championship this year,” Spears said at his weekly press conference.
As of press time, UAPB and Grambling sit atop of the SWAC West with two losses apiece. Should GSU and UAPB win the rest of their games in the SWAC West division, UAPB will advance to the SWAC Championship game via tiebreaker.