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The GSU Tigers' Uphill Battle for the SWAC Championship

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

The Grambling State Tigers engage in a pre-game warm-up session to get ready for their match against Alabama A&M. Photo courtesy of Marva Nichols.

In the hallowed halls of Grambling State University, where traditions run deep and the spirit of competition is etched into the very essence of the campus, a somber mood hung heavy over Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium. The Grambling State Tigers had just suffered their second consecutive loss, a heart-wrenching 45-24 defeat to Alabama A&M, putting their SWAC championship hopes in peril.

For the first time since 2006, the Grambling faithful had to endure a homecoming game loss. The Tigers held a promising 24-17 lead early in the third quarter, their spirits high and hopes soaring. But then, a twist of fate, as they surrendered 28 unanswered points to Alabama A&M. It was a game that would test their resilience and desire to fight on.

The challenges were evident on the field as GSU struggled to contain the relentless AAMU running game, led by the formidable quarterback Xavier Lankford. Lankford's 197 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns left the Tigers in a state of disbelief. The Bulldogs, as a team, ran for a total of 336 yards, leaving an indelible mark on Grambling State's defense.

Quarterback Myles Crawley secured his inaugural touchdown of the season, and he currently holds the top spot in the SWAC for week 7, accumulating an impressive 1593 yards. Photo courtesy of Marva Nichols

Amidst the challenges they faced, Myles Crawley delivered an exceptional performance. He completed 21-of-36 passes for 244 yards and managed to secure his first rushing touchdown of the season in the second half. Floyd Chalk, a steadfast force in the ground game, powered through for 69 yards on 14 carries. Antonio Jones continued to lead the receiving corps for the season, adding 99 yards to his impressive tally, bringing his total to 489 yards, and notching his first touchdown of the season. Chance Williams gained 48 rushing yards, while Osiris Smith and Lyndon Rash contributed 29 and 24 receiving yards, respectively. On the defensive front, Quintin Talley stood out as a significant contributor for Grambling State, accumulating an impressive total of 12 tackles, with Lewis Matthews adding an extra 9 tackles to the tally. Sundiata Anderson was credited with 5 tackles.

For the better part of the game, both teams traded blows, and Grambling State fought valiantly. After Alabama A&M took an early 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter, Grambling State struck back swiftly. A 34-yard touchdown pass from Crawley to Antonio Jones tied the game 7-7, breathing life back into the Tigers.

As the game unfolded, the teams continued their battle. AAMU's Donovan Eglin ran for a 2-yard touchdown, giving them a 14-7 lead. GSU fought back, tying the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter. A 32-yard field goal by Tanner Rinker left the Tigers with a 17-14 advantage heading into halftime. The game was on a knife-edge.

But then, the turning point. Alabama A&M moved down the field swiftly and tied the game at 17 with a 28-yard field goal by Victor Barbosa just before the half.

The Tigers roared to life in the second half, with Crawley scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run on their first drive. Hope was rekindled. But, as fate would have it, that would be the last hurrah for the Tigers. Alabama A&M imposed its will on GSU for the remainder of the game, scoring 28 unanswered points and leaving the Grambling faithful heartbroken.

Now, as the Grambling State Tigers lick their wounds, it's easy to dwell on the bitter taste of defeat. It's easy to let disappointment cloud the vision of what could have been. But that's not what Grambling State football is about. It's about resilience, determination, and the unwavering belief that they can rise from the ashes.

In his sophomore season, Coach Hue Jackson is putting in relentless effort to revitalize the rich legacy of GSU football.. Photo courtesy of Marva Nichols

Under the leadership of Coach Hue Jackson in his second season, the Tigers have embarked on a journey of redemption. They have faced adversity, tasted the bitterness of defeat, but they've also displayed moments of brilliance and unyielding spirit. The loss last Saturday, though painful, is just a chapter in their story, not the end.

Just like one of the most heartfelt moments during the Homecoming game was the inspiring arrival of G-Man Jaquavis Richmond. Not too long ago, he suffered a neck injury at the LSU game, a trying ordeal that left the entire Grambling community in deep thoughts and prayers for “JQ”. Yet, in a remarkable turn of events, there he was running into the revered Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium. His presence was nothing short of a living miracle, a symbol of enduring hope for the G-Men.

Marva Nichols, host of the HueDat Podcast, warmly embraces Jaquavis "JQ" Richmond, who made a remarkable return to Homecoming 2023 after overcoming a severe spine/neck injury in just one month, surprising his teammates. Photo courtesy of Marva Nichols

The Grambling State Tigers still have a fighting chance in the SWAC championship race, but it's a path fraught with uncertainty. They must look ahead, focus on what they can control, and trust in their abilities. It's not over until the final whistle blows, and the true character of a team is defined in how it responds to setbacks.

As the Grambling faithful gather their strength and rally behind their beloved Tigers, they do so with the knowledge that this team is capable of achieving greatness. The journey of redemption is far from over, and there's still hope for a triumphant return to the pinnacle of SWAC football. For every loss, there's an opportunity for a remarkable comeback, and the GSU Tigers are determined to seize it.

As the GSU Tigers navigate the highs and lows of their season, a well-deserved bye week has arrived, providing them with the precious opportunity to regroup, recharge, and refocus. With determination in their hearts, they'll be welcoming Bethune-Cookman to their home turf on October 28th, poised for a spirited clash that promises to reignite their pursuit of victory. The Tigers, fortified with renewed energy and strategic adjustments, eagerly await the challenge that lies ahead. It's another pivotal step in their journey of redemption, as they are currently ranked fourth and continue to vie for supremacy in the fiercely competitive SWAC west division race.

While there's a multitude of voices and opinions surrounding the GSU Tiger Football program, the one unwavering and imperative voice that the G-Men must heed is the timeless anthem: "Fight For Dear Old Grambling."


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