DALLAS, Texas | The Grambling State University football team saw its Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) 26-game winning streak end on Saturday afternoon as the Tigers nearly rallied from a 19-point deficit but a costly interception in the final minute gave Prairie View A&M a 22-16 victory in the 95th State Fair Classic at the Cotton Bowl.
The Tigers (1-3 overall, 1-1 SWAC) could not covert two early Panthers turnovers and Prairie View A&M capitalized with two scores to close out the opening quarter.
Jalen Morton connected with Markcus Hardy for a 38-yard touchdown with 4:20 remaining in the first quarter, and Dawonya Tucker caught an 80-yard touchdown from Morton to give the Panthers a 12-0 lead with 1:33 remaining in the first.
The Panthers added to the advantage with a Zach Elder 43-yard field goal to give Prairie View A&M a commanding 15-0 lead with 6:31 left.
The Tigers got some momentum right before the half as the defense tackled Morton in the endzone for a safety as Prairie View A&M took a 15-2 advantage into the break.
The Panthers (3-3, 2-0) pushed the margin to 22-2 after Zarrian Holcombe caught a four-yard pass from Morton with 4:03 left in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers turned their attention to quarterback Geremy Hickbottom, who came in off the bench in relief of starter Aldon Clark.
Hickbottom guided the offense for an 8-play, 63-yard drive as he scored on a three-yard run with 11:41 remaining.
The Tigers closed the gap to 22-16 with 3:34 left when Quintin Guice caught an 18-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Grambling State converted the onside’s kick to set up shop at their own 46.
The Tigers marched down the field and on third-and-10 from the Prairie View A&M 30, Hickbottom’s pass was intercepted by Ju’Anthony Park to end the rally and give the Panthers their first win in the series since 2013.
Marc Orozco is generally automatic in the kicking game, but Saturday wasn’t his day.
Orozco, who came into the game 34 points shy of becoming the school’s all-time leader in points by a kicker, missed three field goals.
His first field goal of the night, a 33-yarder, banged off the right uprights, in the opening quarter. The second hit off the left upright (47-yards) midway in the first quarter and the final was wide right, a 44-yarder, toward the end of the first half.
Despite the kicking game troubles, Grambling State still nearly rallied from a 22-2 deficit.
Inside the Numbers
> Grambling State finished with 21 first downs
> The Tigers finished the night with 278 total offensive yards
> Grambling State blocked two kicks (one field goal and one extra point) and registered a safety
> Lyndemian Brooks led the Tigers with seven rushes for 56 yards
> Aldon Clark finished the night with 144 passing yards on 16-of-30
> Geremy Hickbottom went 6-for-22 through the air for 92 yards and one touchdown
> Darrell Clark caught four passes for 49 yards
> Devante Davis had four catches for 47 yards
> Percy Cargo registered an interception and a field goal block, along with nine tackles
> Malcolm Williams and De’Arius Christmas each added nine tackles, with Christmas registering a sack
> Prairie View A&M recorded 20 first downs
> The Panthers finished with 408 total offensive yards
> Quarterback Jalen Morton was 23-of-34 passing for 269 yards and three touchdowns
> Dawonya Tucker carried the ball 19 times for 78 yards
> Markcus Hardy caught five passes for 76 yards and one score
> Tyquan Fields finished with nine tackles, while Willie Green tallied eight tackles, including three sacks
News & Notes
> Saturday’s game was the first time the Tigers wore the red jersey tops during the Broderick Fobbs era
> Aldon Clark made second career start of career
> Tigers used a two-quarterback system with Clark and Hickbottom
> De’Arius Christmas named National Football Foundation (NFF) William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalists
>This was the 70th meeting between the two teams
> With the loss, Grambling State maintains a 51-18-1 lead in the series
> Broderick Fobbs suffered first loss in the State Fair Classic
> The loss to Prairie View A&M halted a SWAC streak of 26-straight victories
> The Tigers lost in the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 2013
> Broderick Fobbs remain 10 win’s shy of 50 for his career
>Saturday marked the first time Grambling State head coach Broderick Fobbs and Prairie View A&M head coach Eric Dooley met on opposite sidelines as Dooley was an assistant coach under Fobbs
> Prairie View A&M Quarterback Jalen Morton earned SWAC Offensive Player of the Week honors, SWAC College Sports Madness honors and STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week
Grambling State steps out of non-conference action on Saturday, Oct. 6 as Oklahoma Panhandle State visits Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
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