The Grambling State Tigers (0-5, 0-2 SWAC) led the Lamar University Cardinals (3-2, 0-0 Southland) 16-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Then the Cardinals stormed back, scoring 27 unanswered points to beat the G-Men 27-16.
“We been preaching since I became interim head coach, starting fast and finishing strong,” said George Ragsdale. “We started fast but we didn’t finish strong.”
The Tigers defense was rolling early. They scored the Tigers’ first points when defensive linemen Philip McClain tackled Lamar’s Kad Harrington for a safety. The Tigers went up 2-0. The defense also recorded three interceptions in the first half, two coming in the red zone. Nicholas Peoples caught his second of the year.
“The guys played defensively with a different reservation,” said Ragsdale. “Unfortunately we ran out of gas a little bit.”
Later in the first quarter, quarterback D.J. Williams threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Chester Rogers and tight end Brandon Byrdsong. This gave the Tigers a 16-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Williams completed 20-of-42 passes for 189 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Lamar scored its first points on a 48-yard punt return for a touchdown with 11:10 in the second half. This came after an unsportsmanlike penalty on senior offensive lineman Clint Marsh, which gave Lamar a shorter field after a GSU punt.
Marsh has had discipline problems this season, and was ejected in a game earlier this season against ULM.
“I told him it was unacceptable,” said Ragsdale. “To me it’s an embarrassment to Grambling. He is probably our best football player, or one of two of our best football players.”
Subsequent to the penalty on Marsh, there were noticeable disputes within the coaching staff on Grambling’s sideline. Ragsdale wanted everyone to know that the situation was handled, and the staff talked it out.
“Coaches are competitive also,” said Ragsdale. “We’re 0-5 man, you know nobody likes to lose. Coaches get emotional too. They got a little out of hand.”
After first quarter, Lamar held the G-Men scoreless and answered with 27 points.
Cardinal quarterback Caleb Berry finished the game 31-49 for 399 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Tigers’ defense has allowed 500 yards of total offensive in the last four games, but the rushing game has worked. Running back Jestin Kelly rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season.
He and Cedric Skinner have both rushed for over 100 yards in at least one game this season
“People don’t know the banging and knocking that go on to a running back,” Ragsdale said. “So it’s nice to have one or two that can split those carries.”
GSU’s next game is against Prairie View A&M in Dallas for the State Fair Classic. Kickoff has been moved to 4:30 p.m. in the Cotton Bowl stadium.