Late field goal lifts GSU over Southern, 29-26

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NEW ORLEANS  —  The Grambling State University football team had a kick during its final game of the season with interim head coach Terrence Graves Jr. guiding the Tigers on the sidelines. 

Garrett Urban booted five field goals, none bigger than his last in the game’s waning seconds, as the Tigers snapped a three-game losing streak to its rival on Saturday afternoon with a 29-26 victory over Southern in the 48th Annual Bayou Classic at the Caesars Superdome.

Urban, Grambling State’s Most Valuable Player, notched the game-winning field goal with two seconds remaining as the Tigers (4-7 overall, 3-5 Southwestern Athletic Conference) capped a 3 minute, 48 second drive to close out the game.

The G-Men snapped a three-game road losing streak as well as a three-game losing streak to Southern.

“We came here to do more than just have a good time,” Graves said. “We came here to win this game and I felt like we had an excellent game plan. We did a good job controlling the clock and were able to use our power with the ground game, which opened up some passing lanes. I felt Garrett Urban deserved being the MVP and really this was a total team effort.”

Grambling  fell behind 3-0 after a Luke Jackson 49-yard field goal with 11:17 left in the opening quarter before the Tigers answered on their second offensive possession and the very next drive, going 75 yards in nine plays as Elijah Walker scored on a one-yard touchdown run to give Grambling State a 7-3 advantage with 7:23 remaining in the opening quarter.

Southern (4-7, 3-5) countered by driving 80 yards in seven plays with Devon Benn breaking free on a 22-yard touchdown scoring scamper to give the Jaguars a 10-7 lead at the 3:54 mark of the opening stanza.

Grambling State quickly answered as Urban made good on field  goals of 39 and 36 yards to put the Tigers on top 13-10 lead with 5:41 left in the first half.

Jackson’s 45-yard field goal with 2:49 remaining in the second quarter tied the game at 13-13, but Grambling State finished the half strong with Urban nailing  his third field goal, this time from 27 yards out, with five seconds left in the the first half to send the Tigers into the break with a 16-13 advantage.

Urban’s fourth field, a 27-yarder, pushed GSU’s lead to 19-13 with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

But Southern regained the lead as Ethan Howard caught a 5-yard pass from Ladarius Skelton, Southern’s MVP, to put the Jaguars up 20-19 with 9:56 left in the contest.

Then it was Grambling’s turn to rebound as Greg White hauled in a 23-yard scoring strike from Walker to put the G-Men back on top 26-20 with 6:27 remaining.

But the pendulum swung back in Southern’s favor with 3:55 remaining as  Skelton punched in a one-yard touchdown run. 

But the extra-point kick attempt by Jackson was no good, leaving the game tied at 26-26.

On the ensuing drive, Grambling’s CJ Russell got things going with a 19-yard run before a 13-yard reception by White pushed the ball into Southern territory. 

After three consecutive timeout calls Urban sealed the game with his 25-yard field goal with two seconds left.

Grambling State finished with 21 first downs and 500 total yards of offense with Walker pacing the ground game with 168 yards on 19 carries and one score while Russell added 101 yards on 21 touches

Walker, one of three quarterbacks the G-Men used along with Aldon Clark and John-Paul Pierce, went nine-of-20 passing for 153 yards and one touchdown.

White caught a team-high and game-high four passes for 79 yards and one score

Joshua Reed, Devanir Martin and Xavier Lodge each recorded six tackles each to lead the Tigers.

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