West Division champ and BCSP No. 2 Grambling State (11-1) put up 28 unanswered second-quarter points to jump on top of East Division champ Alcorn State at the break and held on to defeat the Braves 40-32 in the 19th and last scheduled SWAC Championship Game Saturday in Houston.
With the win, Grambling’s second straight championship game victory over Alcorn State, the Tigers will now represent the SWAC for the second year in a row in the third annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl vs. MEAC champion and BCSP No. 1 North Carolina A&T on Dec. 16 at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Its the final game of the 2017 season that will determine the BCSP national champion.
Grambling QB Devante Kincade scored on a 14-yard first quarter run in the game’s opening possession but Alcorn answered with a 2-yard DeLance Turner touchdown run in the ensuing possession. Both teams fumbled leading to first quarter field goals that saw the period end in a 10-10 tie.
But the Tigers opened the second quarter scoring on a 5-yard Martez Carter run to lead 17-10 and scored on its next three possessions while building a 38-10 lead at the break.
Following Carter’s score, Grambling stopped Alcorn on a 3-and-out and reached the end zone on a 15-yard pass from Kincade to tight end Jordan Jones to go up 24-10. The Tigers recovered a Braves fumble two plays after the kickoff at the Alcorn 46 and cashed in four plays later when Kincade ran in from 27 yards away to lead 31-10.
After another Alcorn 3-and-out, GSU drove 75 yards in six plays and scored on Kincade’s 4-yard toss to Quinton Guice to give the Tigers the big 38-10 lead headed at the half.
But in effect, that would be the game or at least all the G-Men would need to claim their second straight SWAC championship. After a scoreless third quarter that saw back-up quarterback Geremy Hickbottom come in for Kincade, Grambling only scored on an early fourth quarter safety.
After the safety, Alcorn recovered a Hickbottom fumble that started a comeback and saw the Braves score on their next three possessions.
The final score that pulled them to within 40-32 came on a 6-yard run from Turner with just under two minutes to play. Grambling recovered the ensuing onsides kick but was not able to move the ball. A Grambling punt to the Alcorn 2-yard line gave the Braves one last chance to drive for a tying score. Beginning with less than a minute left, the Braves drove to the Grambling 48 before time ran out.
Kincade, named last week as the SWAC’s Offensive Player of the Year, passed for 223 yards (14-24-0) and two scores and ran for 75 yards on 11 carries and another two scores to win the game’s MVP award. GSU linebacker De’Andre Hogues was the defensive MVP after registering a team-high tying seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
QB Lenorris Footman’s 307 passing yards (20-34-0) and Turner’s 134 rushing yards and two scores led the Braves. Marquis Watford had seven receptions for 131 yards.
by LUT WILLIAMS