As with any first contest there were a number of penalties as both teams combined for 18 flags. The Bulldogs collected nine of those for 131 yards.
“Our young people played really well,” said Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones, whose lineup featured 15 new starters, plus a new punter and kicker.
“We made some mistakes but overall they played well, well enough to get the victory,” Jones said. “Now what we’re going to try to do is fix the mistakes that we made and get ready for the next one.”
The game started fast as A&M forced a fumble on GSU’s first play of 2013. David Dagrin popped the ball out of Grambling’s Juwan Martin hand as he was being wrapped up by a host of Bulldogs. Senior Derrick Harris then jumped on it the secure the first turnover for the Maroon & White defense.
AAMU was unable to capitalize on the situation as the offenses’ first four plays accounted for no yards.
The first quarter would end in a scoreless tie after 29 plays were run by both teams with neither getting in the end zone. The one positive note was punter Rashad Anderson who had already collected a whopping 101 yards with his foot. His final punt of the first half pinned the Tigers on their one yard line. The second half started on a second and nine situation for Grambling which resulted in an incomplete pass that was broken up by newcomer Quentin Parks.
Alabama A&M’s first points of the new season came on the next play as Robert Nelson tackled the Tigers running back in the end zone for a safety giving A&M their first lead of the year 2-0.
“We had a lot of kids that stepped up tonight and played well,” defensive coordinator Brawnski Towns. “It started with the D-line. (Anthony) Lanier did a good job on pass rushing, also (Reginald) Bailey. The whole front line did a great job. The secondary played well for the first game out, with some new people.”
That score led to the Bulldogs first touchdown which came after an eight play 33 yard drive that saw Ball State transfer Barrington Scott dive into the end zone to push the lead to 9-0.
Grambling would finally get on the board with a 20 yard field goal on the very next drive.
Knowing he would feel comfortable with a bigger lead the Jones led squad grabbed an interception from Grambling when senior Tremaine Shepherd picked the ball off over the middle. AAMU then scored another touchdown when Brandon Wells connected with tight end Toriono Upshaw for their first TD of the year. The score gave AAMU a 16-3 lead at half-time.
On the first drive of the new half A&M used a seven play 78 yard drive to add to their lead 23-9. Wells once again found a receiver this time it was Montauirus Smith who caught a 24 yard score for his first touchdown.
GSU finally found some life after Wells threw his first interception. That turnover led to their first TD of the year when J. Runner found the end zone for a four yard score.
A&M then ran the ball for the final two and a half minutes and secured Jones 98th career win, 80th Bulldog victory, first in the month of August and first of the 2013 season.
The win was Jones second ever in the iconic stadium and second straight in Grambling.
Starting quarterback Brandon Wells proved he was ready finishing 15 of 28 with two touchdowns and a pick. Wells also picked up 28 yards on nine carries. Barrington Scott rushed the ball 16 times for 77 yards and a score while Brandon Eldemire collected 21 yards on 10 rushes. Nelson finished the game with seven tackles, three for a loss of four yards and a safety. Anderson ended his first collegiate game punting for 202 yards averaging 40.4 with three being pinned in the 20 yard line. His longest was 58 yards.
Grambling was led by Nicholas Peoples who secured 10 stops for and a sack for seven yards. Cedric Skinner rushed for 73 yards while quarterback D. J. Williams ended the game six of 20 for 62 yards.
A&M now prepares themselves to play in-state rival Tuskegee University in the fourth annual Louis Crews Classic and 22nd Hall of Fame game.
Courtesy: AAMU Sports Information