The last time DeVante Kincade walked off the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, his left foot was wrapped in a boot and he was holding crutches to support himself.
Kincade, then a quarterback at Ole Miss, had broken his foot while warming up prior to the start of last season’s Sugar Bowl versus Oklahoma State.
Some eleven months later, Kincade exited the Superdome with the SWAC Western Division championship in tow after leading Grambling to a dominating 52-30 win over conference rival Southern in the annual Bayou Classic Saturday.
While Kincade was the star accounting for 339 total yards and two touchdowns, it was Grambling defense that played one of its best games of the season, forcing two turnovers and holding Jaguars quarterback Austin Howard to just 168 yards passing.
The well-rounded effort cemented Grambling, (10-1, 9-0 SWAC) which has gone 18-0 in SWAC regular season play over the last two seasons, as possibly the best team in the conference and maybe tops in HBCU football with the Celebration Bowl still in sight.
“It’s huge to be part of this event,” said Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs.”We’re fortunate to get the victory and we look forward to next week.”
After Southern (8-3, 8-1 SWAC) went on a 7-play, 60-yard drive capped by an 18-yard TD reception by Willie Quinn on the game’s opening drive, it was all Kincade from there.
The junior quarterback, who was named the Bayou Classic MVP, completed two for his first three passes for 69 yards that led to an 11-yard Martez Carter touchdown run to make it 7-6 with 8:43 left in the first quarter.
On the Tigers’ fourth possession of the game, Kincade used his arm and legs to pick up 50 yards to set up a Jonathan Wallace 25-yard field goal to give Grambling a 17-6 second-quarter lead.
Leading just 17-13 at halftime after Southern running back Lenard Tillery (who finished the game with 234 yards rushing) raced 85 yards for a TD, it was the run game — led by Kincade and Jestin Kelly — that took over the game.
At the start of the third quarter, Grambling ran seven plays — all runs for 75 yards with Kelly and Kincade accounting for all of them, including a dazzling 45-yard run by the 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback that gave the Tigers a 24-13 lead.
Southern was never the same after that score.
The Jaguars turned the ball over on downs on its next offense possession when Tillery was stopped by the Grambling front on fourth-and-2 from the Southern 13-yard line.
Sandwiched between a 66-yard TD run by Carter to give Grambling a 31-13 lead, Southern would punt on their next two possessions.
A 34-yard TD run by Lyndemian Brooks to make it 38-13 with 4:02 left in the third quarter all but decided the outcome.
The win, Grambling’s ninth in a row and second consecutive over Southern, sets the Tigers up for a date with Alcorn State in the SWAC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Houston.
“I’m overwhelmed right now,” Kincade said. “I want to thank God and Coach Fobbs for giving me the opportunity to play quarterback at this university.”