LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Grambling State took every shot Arkansas-Pine Bluff had to offer but managed to escape the second annual Delta Classic 4 Literacy with a 30-24 victory that came down to the wire once again for the second consecutive year.
UAPB (1-5, 1-3 SWAC), known for its big play offense, opened the game with a bang as quarterback Jonathan Moore found a wide open Jason Jones for a 79-yard scoring strike on their initial play from scrimmage. John Heflin’s PAT was good as the Golden Lions led 7-0. With the Tiger offense struggling to find its groove throughout the first quarter and at the beginning of the second, UAPB moved ahead 10-0 midway through the second quarter on Heflin’s 22-yard field goal.
Aided by several penalties by UAPB’s defense on the ensuing drive, Grambling’s offense finally came to life as the Tigers went on a five-play, 77-yard drive that ended with freshman running back Frank Warren scoring his first career touchdown on a 14-yard run. After stopping UAPB on their ensuing offensive possession, the Tiger offense went on their second consecutive scoring drive and tied the contest at 10-all after a 38-yard field goal by Manuel with 1:06 remaining in the first half.
GSU made several halftime adjustments and came out clicking on all cylinders in the third quarter. Quarterback Brandon Landers and Warren engineered a three-play, 55-yard drive that was capped off with a 15-yard pass to wideout Clyde Edwards for a 17-10 margin. After alternating possessions, the Tiger defense made a huge play with a Keefe Hall fumble recovery and the offense rewarded them for their efforts when Landers rushed in for a one-yard quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1.
Leading 24-10 heading into the fourth quarter, the game seemingly was in Grambling State’s hands but UAPB managed to hang around for an exciting ending.
A potential GSU scoring drive came to a halt after UAPB’s Jermaine Clemons intercepted a Landers’ pass en route to a 50-yard return. UAPB trimmed the game to one touchdown several plays later when Moore rushed in for a one-yard touchdown at the 11:21 mark.
With the game’s momentum swinging, the Golden Lion offense shot themselves in the foot on GSU’s 40 when safety DeMichael Dizer recovered a Moore fumble with 9:12 left in the contest. The Tigers took advantage of the gift and rode the backs of freshmen running backs Walker and Cornelius Warren en route to a 30-17 lead after Warren’s 18-yard scamper with 6:52 remaining in the contest.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff made a quarterback change late in the quarter when Preseason SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Chris Wallace entered the game with 3:07 left. Wallace guided UAPB on a nine-play, 86-yard drive to close the gap to 30-24 late in the half. With only 1:51 left in the game, the Golden Lions attempted the obvious on-side kick and made things interesting after recovering the kick at their own 42.
As the drive began, GSU’s Christian Anthony recorded a key sack on first down which set up a 2nd-and-15 situation on UAPB’s 37. After misfiring on second down, UAPB struck fear in the hearts of GSU fans on third down when Jason Jones broke free for a 63-yard touchdown to tie the contest. However, the touchdown was negated on an illegal motion penalty and GSU retained possession of the ball and ultimately the game after UAPB came up three yards short on fourth down.
GSU finished with 359 (214 P, 145 R) total offensive yards while UAPB completed the contest with 454 (369 P, 85 R) yards. Warren led GSU on the ground with 92 yards on 17 carries while Landers finished with 214 yards passing on 22-of-38 attempts. Reginald Jackson led all GSU wideouts with nine receptions for 90 yards.