Two teams entered the Cotton Bowl with winless records and one team walked out with a win. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Tigers (0-5).
Saturday, when the game clock read 0:00, with a final score of 31-14, Grambling dropped its fifth consecutive game to the Prairie View Panthers (1-5) in the State Fair Classic for the second straight year.
After the game, when the Tigers raised their index fingers during the singing of the Alma Mater, it was evident that the team was going through different emotions.
While fingers were up, heads were down, faces were frowned up and tears were shed.
The loss to the Panthers really stuck with starting quarterback D.J. Williams, who finished completing 11 of 23 passes with one interception and a rushing touchdown.
“It’s just a will to win,” said D.J. “I just wanted to win. I can’t take losing like this. I just felt like we really needed that win.”
With five games of the season over and all of them being losses, the G-Men are in last place of the SWAC West and are the only winless in the conference.
Many naysayers are already writing off the Tigers’ second year quarterback, but at the 11:26 mark of the second quarter, D.J. willed his team to a 14-10 lead after a desperate 20-yard rushing touchdown on fourth down.
Head coach Doug Williams describes D.J.’s courageous play as one of the best plays of his career.
“What made that play so good was that he called it,” said coach Williams.
“It started off a throwing play he saw that it wasn’t there and he took it upon his self to make a play.”
He also backed up his son stating, “If you look at the quarterback play, the quarterback isn’t getting us beat.”
Williams added, “We still had opportunities in spite of the quarterback or anybody else. I thought D.J. played effectively, we just weren’t able to do some of the things we are capable of doing because we don’t have some of the weapons we would like to have.”
Although, D.J. acted as a playmaker early in the second quarter, coach Williams said that the teams inability to make plays, offensively and defensively, is something that’s hindering the team’s success.
Junior linebacker Nick Powell agrees with coach Williams and he said that making plays was a huge factor in them losing on Saturday.
“I felt that it was a surprising loss, I felt like it was a game that we could’ve won,” said Powell. ” We didn’t make enough plays as we thought we were going to make.”
Against P.V., Grambling made a total of 75 plays, which is 11 more than the Panthers, for 396 total yards.
On third downs, when making plays are the most essential, the Tigers are usually unsuccessful.
For the season the Tigers are 19-66 on third downs conversions.
“One thing we talked about was third downs,” said coach Williams.
“I think offensively we have to make some plays on third downs to stay on the field.”
Next the G-Men will travel to Rice-Totten Stadium, in Itta Bena, MS for a 3 p.m. game against Mississippi Valley State, a team who’s record is 1-4 and is currently on a two game losing streak.
Coach Williams expects the Delta Devils to attempts and stop the run because it’s apparent that rushing is the Tigers’ best weapon, as they ran the ball 43 times for 163 against Prairie View.
Still, the Tigers will continue with its running strategy and hopefully the G-Men will run into their first win.