Tigers win second in 12 years

NEW ORLEANS -- Ab Kuuan said he couldn't sleep leading up to
the Bayou Classic, but he sure didn't look tired.
"I didn't sleep at all because I was dreaming about making
plays," Kuuan said.
Make plays he did, rushing for 126 yards and three touchdowns to
lift Grambling State to a 24-13 victory over Southern in the Bayou
Classic on Saturday in the Louisiana Superdome. "Thinking about
this game sent chills down my spine. I was visualizing having a
game like this."
Kuuan, who carried 18 times, scored all his touchdowns in the
second half as the Tigers handed the Jaguars their first conference
loss and denied them an opportunity to wrap up a berth in the
Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship game.
Grambling (6-5, 3-4 SWAC) avoided a losing season by defeating
the Jaguars for just the second time in the last 12 meetings.
"This was like our championship game," said Grambling running
back Ruben Mayes, who gained 89 yards on 20 carries.
Southern (8-3, 6-1) can still play for the SWAC title on Dec. 11
if Alabama State defeats Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 4. Alabama
State already has secured a spot in the championship game.
The Tigers' offensive line averages 330 pounds, about 50 pounds
more than the Jaguars' defensive line. Grambling rushed for 279
yards on 56 attempts.
"We knew they were going to run the football," Southern coach
Pete Richardson said. "They gave the illusion that they were going
to throw it. But they've got that huge offensive line and they kept
beating us and pounding on us. We had a tough time controlling
Grambling trailed 6-3 at halftime but went ahead on the first
possession of the second half. The Tigers drove 68 yards and took a
10-6 lead on Kuuan's 11-yard touchdown run. Southern regained the
lead, 13-10, on Devin Herbert's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:59 left
in the third quarter.
Grambling climb back ahead for good, 17-13, on Kuuan's 1-yard
touchdown run with 12:53 left in the game.
The Jaguars got in position to try a 43-yard field goal in the
fourth quarter, but Montie Ackley's kick was blocked by Ken Pettway
and Greg Fassitt recovered the ball at the Southern 40. That was
the second Jaguars field goal to be blocked. Jason Hatcher had
blocked Ackley's 47-yard attempt in the first quarter.
On the possession after the second blocked kick, Kuuan's 23-yard
run gave the Tigers a first down at the Southern 17. Three plays
later on third-and-7, Kuuan gained seven yards to give Grambling
first-and-goal at the seven, then scored on a 2-yard run three
plays later, giving the Tigers a 24-13 lead with 4:22 remaining in
the game.
"We came into the ball game without a whole lot to lose,"
Grambling coach Melvin Spears said. "We've run the ball well at
times this year, but the key today was staying consistent and
staying focused on the task at hand."
The Tigers had an early lead on Brian Morgan's 39-yard field
goal, which was set up by Kuuan's 32-yard run out of punt formation
on fourth-and-10 from Grambling's 43.
Grambling later went for fourth-and-6 from the Southern 42 with
less than a minute left in the first half and failed to convert
that time.
Three plays later, the Jaguars had four seconds left and threw a
desperation pass down the middle of the field. Amid three Grambling
defenders, Emile Bryant ran under Thomas Ricks' pass, falling
across the goal line for a touchdown that gave Southern a 6-3
halftime lead.