Grambling defeats Alcorn State to win SWAC championship; will face N.C. A&T in Celebration Bowl

This article is from our friends at the Monroe Star

The Grambling State Tigers bolted out to a big halftime lead and then held on for a 40-32 victory over Alcorn State in the final SWAC Championship Game.

Grambling built a 38-10 halftime lead and then survived a fourth-quarter rally from the Braves to repeat as SWAC football champions. Grambling has not lost a SWAC game since Dec. 5, 2015, against Alcorn State in the SWAC title game. GSU coach Broderick Fobbs is 32-2 in SWAC play.

“The feeling is unbelievable,” Grambling State linebacker De’Arius Christmas said. “You can’t explain the feeling because we are back-to-back champions, but we feel like we are not done. We won the game, but it wasn’t the way we wanted to. We weren’t a great team, we won as a good team. We want to be great.”

The Tigers’ Brandon Varner caused a safety early in the fourth quarter for a 40-10 Grambling lead. Alcorn’s Lenoris Footman passed to Norlando Veals over the middle and the receiver took it 34 yards for a touchdown to trim the GSU lead to 40-17. Footman was 20-of-34 for 307 yards.

Alcorn added another fourth-quarter touchdown when Footman ran in 6 yards untouched to cut the deficit to 40-24.

After forcing a Grambling punt, Alcorn drove 95 yards for a touchdown — with 65 yards coming on a pass play. De’Lance Turner scored on a 6-yard run and a 2-point conversion brought Alcorn within 40-32 with 1:51 to play. Turner rushed for 137 yards.

Grambling recovering the ensuing onside kick, but the Tigers had to punt. They pinned the Braves back to their 1-yard line with less than a minute to play. Alcorn drove into Grambling territory before time expired.

“I knew they would make a run at some point because that is the type of program they have,” Fobbs said. “I thought that us being so explosive in the first half put them on their heels. At the end of the day, I thought they ran out of time.”

Grambling dominated the first half.

The Tigers had 363 yards offense and put 38 points on the scoreboard as they led 38-10 after two quarters. Grambling finished with 439 yards offense.

The G-Men marched 90 yards on their opening offensive series, capped by a 13-yard touchdown run from Grambling quarterback Devane Kincade for a 7-0 lead.

It was the seventh time this season Grambling scored on its first drive of the game.

Alcorn answered with a touchdown of its own with Turner scoring on a 4-yard run. His score ended an 80-yard drive that came exclusively on the ground.

Grambling regained the lead on a 48-yard Orozco field goal. The score was set up when Alcorn’s Jalen Walker muffed a punt and Grambling’s Bryce Williams recovered at the Alcorn State 34-yard line.

Alcorn, though, took advantage of a muffed punt return by Grambling’s Malik Route. Corey McCullough’s 22-yard field goal tied the score at 10 with 1:30 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Martez Carter outraced the defense out of the Wing “G” for a 5-yard touchdown. Orozco’s PAT put Grambling up, 17-10.

Grambling extended the lead to 24-10 midway through the second quarter when Kincade passed 15 yards to Jordan Jones for the touchdown.

Later in the second quarter, Kincade provided another touchdown for Grambling as the Tigers took a 31-10 lead. Kincade’s touchdown run included a spin move and diving for the end zone.

The Tigers closed out the half with a Kincade touchdown pass of 4 yards to Quinton Guice for a 38-10 halftime lead.

“I saw the momentum shift and start to leave (in the second half),” Fobbs said. “Once it goes, it starts to snowball and you can’t get it back and you’re holding on for dear life. I think we learned a very valuable lesson that you have to play for four quarters, especially when you’re playing against very good teams.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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