HOUSTON – The Prairie View A&M Panthers opened the 2013 campaign with a bang as they reclaimed the Labor Day Classic trophy with a solid performance on both sides of the ball during a 37-13 win over Texas Southern on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Possessing one of the SWAC’s top offensive units a season ago, the Panthers wasted no time in getting on the board in 2013 with an 11-play, 80-yard opening drive for an early 6-0 lead. On the drive, starting quarterback Jerry Lovelocke led an efficient attack as he went 8-of-9 while sophomore running back Johnta’ Hebert scored from two yards out.
The momentum the offense possessed quickly dissappeared on TSU’s opening drive as they needed only four plays to score before moving ahead 7-6 after the PAT. However, the Panther offense went to work once again and jumped ahead as quarterback De’Auntre Smiley scored from two yards out to cap off an 11-play, 65-yard drive. Chris Barrick’s PAT was good as the Panthers moved ahead 13-7 with 7:13 left in the first quarter.
The Panther defense made its presence known on the ensuing drive with its first sack of the year en route to a three-and-out. Unfortunately, the Panthers fell victim to special teams miscues as a fumble on the punt return gave TSU the ball at the PV 10. Despite the short field, the defense kept TSU out the endzone as the Tigers settled for a field goal en route to a 13-10 margin.
Prairie View A&M saw its bid for a third straight scoring drive end with a missed field goal by Barrick but the defense responded once again with a stop to give PV the ball entering the second quarter. After a three-and-out by the offense, TSU put together a long drive but had to settle for a field goal once again as they knotted the contest at 13-all with 8:50 left in the half. After a pair of punts, the Panther defense recorded a big third down sack midway through the second quarter but were forced back onto the field immediately as the Panthers fumbled the punt return. However, the defense returned the favor on the ensuing drive as defensive tackle Brock Newton sacked TSU’s Homer Causey and forced a fumble which was recovered by Meshak Williamson at the TSU 35 with 1:38 remaining.
The offense took advantage of the gift and needed only five plays to score as Courtney Brown rushed in from four yards out for the team’s third score of the night. The PAT was good as PV claimed a 20-3 lead with 54 ticks left in the half. An unsportsmanlike penalty which was tacked on to the kickoff allowed TSU to have solid field position on its next drive. The Tigers took advantage and marched to the PV 14 but once again, the defense held ground as junior safety David Metcalf intercepted Causey’s pass in the endzone to kill the drive and end the half.
TSU went three-and-out to open the second stanza and the Panthers wasted no time in padding their lead as Lovelocke found Greg Thurmond for a 29-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-19. The PAT sailed thru the uprights as PV led 27-13 early in the second half.
From that point, the Panthers dominated as TSU was forced to punt three straight times while Barrick added a 37-yard field goal for a 30-13 margin with 8:50 left in the third quarter. On the next drive, junior linebacker Jerome Howard and Williamson sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble which was recovered by redshirt freshman Jamespaul Bryant at the TSU 44. The Panthers closed out the scoring with a solid ground performance as Brown broke free for an eight-yard scamper en route to a 37-13 lead once Barrick’s PAT sailed thru the uprights.
The Panthers tallied 488 total offensive yards as 316 yards came thru the air and 172 yards came via the ground game. Defensively, the Panthers held TSU to a total of 260 yards and forced four turnovers. The last time PV held a team under 300 yards occurred in 2010 as Saturday’s 260-yard outing marked the lowest output since 2008.
Individually, Lovelocke passed for 283 yards on 30-of-39 passing with a touchdown. Brown rushed for 98 yards on 14 attempts with two touchdowns followed by eight receptions from Gabe Dunlap. Defensively, senior Raheem Cardwell led the way with 12 tackles followed by eight tackles, a tackle for loss, sack and fumble recovery from Bryant.
The Panthers head to San Marcos, Texas next Saturday as they’ll face Texas State at 6 p.m.