GRAMBLING, La. – Prior to Saturday’s contest, Grambling head coach Rod Broadway mentioned that if the Tigers were to be successful against Alcorn State in their home opener, the team would need to play well on offense, defense and special teams. The players took his words to heart as GSU received a strong effort in all phases of the game as the Tigers blanked Alcorn State 29-0 in their home opener before more than 10,000 fans at Robinson Stadium.
Saturday’s contest began as a defensive battle as both teams combined to punt a total of seven times in the first quarter and beginning of the second. On the game’s seventh punt, the GSU special teams unit came alive as senior King Beckwith forced and recovered a fumble by ASU’s Antonio DeJarnett at the 50. Grambling marched down the field in seven plays to the ASU 17 but the drive stalled after a blocked field goal by ASU. Alcorn State went three-and-out on its ensuing possession and ran into serious trouble as defensive back Jeffery Jack blocked an Alexander Oelfke punt and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
Ahead 7-0, the Tiger defense stepped up and recorded back-to-back interceptions on their next two drives and the offense took advantage as quarterback J.P. Tillman led GSU on a five-play, 24-yard drive that culminated with his first career touchdown pass to Larry Donnell with 3:38 left in the first half for a 13-0 margin.
Grambling opened the second half with another defensive stop and the offense once again responded as Tillman found Donnell for the second time of the game with a 14-yard touchdown pass. The 2-point conversion wasn’t successful but the Tigers increased its lead to 19-0 early in the third quarter. After forcing ASU to turn the ball over on downs following the touchdown, sophomore running back Frank Warren delivered the knockout blow as he broke free for a 44-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. On the sixth play of the drive, Warren rewarded himself with a 9-yard scamper to up GSU’s lead to 26-0 in the third quarter.
Redshirt freshman Bruna’ Foster picked off a pass from ASU’s Tim Buckley on the next drive and returned it 53 yards to set up Grambling’s final score of the night. Seven plays later, kicker Luis Leal booted a 28-yard field goal to up GSU’s lead to 29-0 entering the fourth quarter.
For the game, GSU amassed 241 (167 P, 74 R) total yards of offense while ASU finished with 176 (135 P, 41 R). Warren led GSU’s rushing attack with 63 yards on six carries while Tillman finished 12-of-25 for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Donnell was Tillman’s favorite target of the night as he caught five receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Keefe Hall led GSU with 10 tackles while Christian Anthony logged two sacks and seven tackles. In the secondary, Foster picked off two passes followed by one each from Copeland and Kenneth Anio.
GSU returns to action next weekend on the road in Natchitoches, La. as they face Northwestern State at 2 p.m. in Turpin Stadium.
* Grambling shuts out Alcorn State for the first time since an 11-0 win in 1998.
* Bruna’ Foster caught his first two career interceptions.
* Larry Donnell has now thrown for a touchdown and caught a touchdown in his two years at Grambling.
* J.P. Tillman threw his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter after entering the game as a back-up.