Grambling State rallies to win SWAC title
Birmingham, AL (Sports Network) - Grambling State rallied from a 15-point deficit to edge Alabama A&M, 16-15, in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game before 23,476 at Legion Field on Saturday.
Sophomore linebacker Jacarde Carter scored on a 66-yard fumble return to tie the game and Zoltan Riazzo kicked the extra point to give the Tigers their first lead with 12:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Western Division champ Grambling State (8-4) collected its sixth title in the 13th year of the SWAC championship game and its first since 2008. The Tigers have won all four of its title game meetings with A&M.
Grambling State had fallen to A&M, 20-14, at home in a regular-season game on Sept. 24.
But the Tigers, 1-4 in mid-October, won their final seven games to collect the Eddie Robinson Trophy in Doug Williams' first season since returning to campus for his second stint as head coach.
The game turned quickly on an exchange of turnovers early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs had hoped to build on their 15-9 lead after Denzel Cotton recovered a muffed punt by Grambling State's David Stuckman at the Tigers' 30.
But two plays later, Bryan Nelson was stripped on a carry and Carter scooped up the ball and rumbled 66 yards in front of the A&M bench for a touchdown at the 12:27 mark.
Riazzo then kicked the extra point to give Grambling State the 16-15 lead.
A&M's next possession ended with a punt after nine plays. The Bulldogs' final possession was stopped in seven plays when Grambling State senior linebacker Cliff Exama intercepted A&M quarterback Deaunte Mason at the Tigers' 27 with 1:19 remaining.
A&M lost the game despite holding a 331-183 advantage in total yards. The Eastern Division champ enjoyed a 13-minute, 19-second edge in time of possession and a 3-1 advantage in turnovers.
Grambling State's Dawrence Roberts had 63 yards on 19 carries, while quarterback D.J. Williams, Doug's freshman son, completed only four of 16 pass attempts for 100 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
For A&M, Mason was 16-for-26 for 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Kaderius Lacey rushed for 86 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.
The Tigers, who trailed 15-0 in the first half, pulled within 15-9 in the third quarter when Mario Louis caught his SWAC-leading 18th touchdown reception on an 80-yard pass from D.J. Williams with 6:52 left. Their attempt of a two-point conversion failed.
Alabama A&M squandered away all of its first-half lead.
Following a Terrance Pride 31-yard run, Lacey scored from 12 yards out to cap the game's opening possession at the 10:45 mark of the first quarter.
Chance Wilson's extra-point attempt was blocked, however, keeping the Bulldogs' lead at 6-0.
In the second quarter, Mason connected with Pride for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 6:02 left. But Wilson hit the left upright on the extra point and A&M's lead remained 12-0.
Wilson made a 34-yard field goal at the 3:52 mark, but Riazzo's 27-yarder with 1:02 left pulled Grambling State within 15-3 by halftime.
12/10 17:03:59 ET