Grambling State University played their last game of the season against Southern University before a crowd of more than 47,000 people in the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome. Despite a momentous third quarter, GSU could not put together a comeback to win the game.
“I think a lot of people came out to see how this team was going to react, how this team was going to play, were they going to play with the same intensity that they played with on homecoming” said coach Dennis Winston.
The Tigers went through a series of unfortunate events in the first half. Their first drive of the game ended when quarterback Johnathan Williams throwing his first interception since taking over as the starter in the Pine-Bluff game.
Southern drove the ball down the field and scored their first touchdown of the game. The Tigers answered back on their next drive with a field goal but did not score again in the first half. Winston admits the team started the game off slow but he insists they were not nervous.
“This was the twelfth game of the year so you shouldn’t be nervous,” said Winston. “You’ve played in eleven games before that so this is the twelfth game, im sure they did not expect that big of crowd to be there”
Grambling’s defense had a hard time stopping Southern’s offense in the first half. The Jaguars added on to their lead and was ahead 27-3 at half time.
The Tigers came into the third quarter and played very well. Nequan Smith intercepted a Dre Joseph pass in the end zone on the opening drive of the third quarter. J. Williams drove the team down the field and threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Robert Bailey, making the score 27-10.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and then we came out and did some things we should have done in the first half” said Winston
Southern’s next drive resulted in their first punt of the game, and in the early fourth quarter Johnathan Williams lead the team on another scoring drive. This time he hooked up with Anthony McGhee for an eight yard touchdown pass. The score was 27-17 and the Tigers were storming back into the game.
“We knew we were coming back then, we were headed back in the right direction, until that uncovered man,” said Winston.
Southern would score quickly on their next drive which was set up by a 66 yard kickoff return. A field goal put the Jaguars up 30-17.
Grambling’s next drive ended in a sack fumble on their 37 yard line. Southern’s quarterback Dre Joseph connected with a wide-open Doss Lee for a 27-yard touchdown. This shifted the momentum of the game as Southern would run away with the game, the final score being 40-17.
“We were in the game at that time 27-17, and that was the play that kind of stuck an arrow through us right there, when someone didn’t cover their man,” said Winston.
Former starting quarterback D.J. Williams played in the game late in the fourth quarter. He completed five of eleven passes for 47 yards.
“D.J. came in and did what he was supposed to do, he hit people in the hands and they dropped the football like we had been doing earlier this year,” said Winston. “It’s not his fault, he put it in your hands you’ve got to catch it, you’re a receiver you’re supposed to catch the football, that’s your job.”
Coach Winston is very optimistic about Grambling’s football team next season. The school has eight recruiting commitments already and he says it will look like a completely different team
“Playing differently offensively, playing differently defensively, more depth, we’ll have more competition at each position, we’ll be a totally revamped football team” said the interim head coach.