JACKSON – Despite trailing by 19 points early in the third quarter, Jackson State continued to battle Grambling State as the two teams looked for a win in the SWAC opener for both schools.
But as JSU was driving towards a win late in the fourth quarter, a botched snap turned into the Tigers’ fifth turnover of the game and GSU escaped with a 40-35 win in front of 18,522 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
La Montiez Ivy threw for a career high 407 yards and four touchdowns and Dan Williams had eight catches for a career high 171 yards and three touchdowns for JSU (2-2, 0-1), but three of the five turnovers led to 21 points for GSU (1-3, 1-0).
“Grambling is a good football team,” said head coach Harold Jackson. “That was not a 0-3 team we played tonight.”
Grambling State notched a safety and scored a touchdown on back-to-back drives to take a 33-14 lead with 9:45 left in the third quarter.
But Jackson State quickly responded, going 74 yards in nine plays as Ivy and Williams hooked up for the second time on a 17-yard pitch-and-catch that cut into the deficit.
The two connected again with 5:31 left in the game on a 32-yard strike that brought J-State to within 33-28.
JSU got the ball back looking to take the lead, but Tyree Hollins picked off his second pass of the night and returned it44-yards to the JSU 4 yard line.
GSU scored on the next play to push the lead back to double figures with 3:05 left, but Ivy moved the Tigers 79 yards in just 56 seconds, connecting with Devin Fosselman (who finished six catches and a career high 108 yards) for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 2:02 left.
After forcing a punt, JSU got the ball at its own 37 with 1:09 left. But after moving the ball inside the GSU 40, a muffed snap hit the ground and GSU recovered, sealing the victory.
“We just didn’t execute,” said Ivy. “We just have to work harder to get ready for next week when we play Arkansas-Pine Bluff.”
GSU came out hot, scoring on its first two possessions. A 42-yard field goal by Mark Orozco and a 26-yard touchdown pass from Stephen Johnson to Chad Williams gave GSU a 10-0 edge at the end of the first quarter.
JSU, though, had an answer in the second quarter as Ivy got the offense moving. His 5-yard scoring run got the Tigers on the board. On their ensuing drive, Ivy went deep and found Williams streaking past the GSU secondary for a 49-yard scoring bomb to give JSU its first lead – 14-10 – with 4:29 left in the first half.
Two turnovers by Ivy late in the second quarter handed Grambling the lead heading into the half.
First, an interception by Hollins was returned 44 yards to give the Tigers first-and-goal at the JSU 4. Two plays later, Johnson found Juwan Martin for a 3-yard scoring strike – his second touchdown throw of the half – to give GSU a 17-14 advantage.
On the ensuing drive, Ivy was stripped near midfield and Aaron Breed picked up the loose ball, returning it 41 yards for the score and a 24-14 GSU lead at the break.