MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Grambling State Tigers clinched a berth to the 2007 SWAC Championship game after a 21-7 victory over Alabama State University on Saturday afternoon in the Cramton Bowl.
Grambling State’s (8-1, 8-0 SWAC) first score was set up by its defense as defensive end John Scroggins stripped the ball from an ASU (4-5, 3-5 SWAC) player which was recovered by safety DeMichael Dizer. Several plays later, freshman running back Frank Warren scooted into the endzone for a 3-yard run and a 6-0 lead at the 11:28 mark in the first quarter.
On ASU’s second possession of the contest, the Tiger defense came up big again as Jeffrey Jack intercepted a Chris Mitchell pass and returned it 26 yards to ASU territory. Grambling State drove all the way to the ASU 7 and moved ahead 12-0 after quarterback Brandon Landers found tight end Tim Abney alone in the endzone on third-and-goal. The Tigers elected to go for two on the PAT and came up big as Landers connected with wideout Reginald Jackson on the conversion attempt for a 14-0 advantage.
Grambling found the scoreboard once again midway through the second quarter when Landers hooked up with Warren in the endzone for his third touchdown pass of the game. Tim Manuel’s PAT was good as GSU extended its lead to 21-0 with 7:34 remaining in the first half.
Alabama State took a play out of GSU’s playbook near the close of the second half to prevent GSU’s shutout. After picking off Landers, ASU drove all the way to the GSU 9 and found the endzone when Craig Freeman scored on a fumblerooskie play. The PAT was good as the Hornets trailed 21-7 to close out the first half.
After a fast pace in the first half, the second half slowed as the game turned into a battle for field position. The Tiger defense kept ASU’s offense in check throughout the majority of the half except for a late fourth quarter drive by Alabama State that saw them try to switch the game’s momentum. With the ball at Grambling’s 27, the Tiger defense came up big once again as Jack broke up a sure ASU reception on fourth down which allowed GSU to regain of the ball and ultimately the win.
As a team, the Tigers gained 259 total offensive yards (177 P, 82 R) while ASU finished with 169 (135 R, 38 P) yards. Warren led GSU on the ground with 54 yards on 16 carries while Landers threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-30 attempts. Wideout Clyde Edwards led GSU with five receptions for 66 yards.
The win sends GSU back to the SWAC Championship game for the fifth time in school history and second time in three years. The Tigers will step out of SWAC play next weekend and venture east to nearby Monroe, La. for their first-ever meeting against the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Malone Stadium.