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Grambling, Alcorn in three-match for SWAC title

It was former Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley who coined the term ‘three-peat’ for a team trying to win its third straight championship after winning back-to-back (repeat) titles.

Well, in that case, this Saturday’s third straight match up at the SWAC Championship Game in Houston of West Division champion Grambling State and East Division champ Alcorn State can be dubbed a ‘three-match.’

Grambling and Alcorn State have met in the last two title games with each coming out with a win. Grambling came back from a 17-0 halftime deficit a year ago to pull out a 27-20 victory over the Braves. Alcorn State dominated the G-Men in the 2015 title game, winning 52-30.

And each has represented the conference as its champion in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl vs. the MEAC champion.

Alcorn fell to MEAC champ North Carolina A&T 41-34 in Celebration Bowl I in 2015 at the Super Dome in Atlanta. Last year in the Dome, Grambling narrowly downed MEAC champ North Carolina Central 10-9 in Celebration Bowl II.

The winner of this year’s title game, the final SCG, will face MEAC champion North Carolina A&T on Sat., Dec. 16 at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta in Celebration Bowl III.

Grambling State vs. Alcorn State The SWAC Championship Game will be the second game between the rivals this year. Grambling ran away to a 41-14 win vs. the Braves back on Oct. 21 in Grambling. In that game, the Braves out-rushed the Tigers (195 to 151) and had more first downs (19-18) but Braves’ starting quarterback Lenorris Footman was hurt in the game and back-up QB Noah Johnson threw three interceptions. The Braves fumbled seven times, lost four, and were 3-of-15 on 3rd downs.

While Alcorn State was mistake-prone, Grambling was much more efficient. Quarterback Devante Kincade hit on 17 of 26 passes for 268 yards and two TDs with just one interception. Running back Martez Carter ran for 115 yards on 25 carries and the G-Men had three receivers with over 60 yards in receptions. The Tigers were penalized however 13 times for 105 yards.

Grambling led 24-7 at the half behind Kincade’s two TD throws and scored touchdowns in the second half off an interception and a fumble recovery in the end zone.

Expect a much more competitive game this time around.

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The teams are 1-2 in the league in scoring offense (Grambling 32.9 ppg., Alcorn 32.0) and 2-3 in scoring defense (GSU 19.4 ppg., ALC 20.1). Alcorn (457.6 ypg.) is first in total offense with Grambling fourth (363.6 ypg.). Alcorn is first in rushing offense (241.3 ypg.) while Grambling is first against the rush (94.0 ypg.).

On the individual side, Alcorn’s DeLance Turner is the top rusher in the conference (1,221 yards, 111.0 ypg., 8 TDs) while Grambling’s dynamic scatback Martez Carter is third (800 yards, 80.0 ypg., 9 TDs). Turner (144.3 ypg.) and Carter (128.9 ypg.) are 1-2 in all-purpose yards and tied for second in scoring (6.0 points per game).

Kincade leads the league in passing yards (219.0 ypg.), passing efficiency with 19 TDs and just 3 interceptions and total offense (2408 ypg.).

Footman has not played since the Grambling game and is questionable for Saturday’s game. Johnson is perhaps more of a dual-threat QB than is Footman. Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, led the Tigers to wins over Alabama A&M (47- 22) that clinched the East Division title on Nov. 4 and a 59-0 win over Mississippi Valley State the following week. In the A&M game, he threw for only 74 yards but ran for 124 yards and 2 TDs while the Braves ran for 416 yards and five scores.

Against MVSU he showed his passing prowess throwing (12 of 19) for 297 yards and three scores while rushing for 122 yards and two more TDs. In a meaningless regular season-ending 7-3 loss to Jackson State, Johnson ran for 70 yards and threw (15 of 25) for 199.

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor

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