The lopsided final score of the 40th Annual Bayou Classic between Southern University and Grambling State University was but the latest bruise administered to a Tigers program that has suffered through a season of calamitous proportions that included the firings of two head coaches and a student-boycott that resulted in the forfeit of a game versus Jackson State University. However, the game was a very competitive affair through three quarters and Grambling seemed poised for the upset early on as GSU's young dual threat quarterback Johnathan Williams ran the zone read option and the quarterback draw to great success, especially early in the third quarter.
However, Grambling's porous defensive secondary was dissected as QB Dray Joseph and wide reciever Lee Doss combined to lead Southern's pro-style offense past the hapless Tigers. GSU entered the game with a 1-10 record and haven't won a Southwestern Athletic Conference road game in two years. The road was rocky from the start for GSU as head coach Doug Williams was fired after starting 0-2.
Grambling finished 1-10 last season as well. The firing of Williams was the catalyst in sparking a student-athlete boycott of all football related activities and highlighted by revelations of poorly maintained training facilities. That tiff culminated with the forfiet of a road game against Jackson State University. Early indicators appeared to show a Tigers squad that was primed for an upset as they closed to within 10 points with a 27-17 score early in the 4th quarter.
"I’m OK with that because you know what? One thing it did is brought a lot of attention to this one game,” said Grambling coach Dennis “Dirt” Winston of the manner in which his team performed. “The world wanted to see what these guys were going to do. ... I think they represented well. Southern today was just a better football team.”
RB Lenard Tillery and QB Johnathan Williams appeared to be leading a prideful charge to get back in the game in the second half but two late interceptions resulted in a quarterback swap that inserted junior signal caller D.J. Williams into the line up-son of former coach Doug Williams. He initially appeared to be hot after completing five consecutive passes in a row. But it was all a little too late as the Southern pass rush began to penetrate the Grambling blocking scheme with increasing regularity as the quarter progressed.
The Tigers fought bravely early on, but their poor defense in conjunction with the timing and synergy that had been generated between Joseph and Doss (117 yards and three touchdowns), proved to be too much for Grambling State University.
The Bayou Classic was first played in 1974 at the behest of the late Eddie Robinson Sr, though the rivalry between Southern and Grambling began in 1936. Southern's victory brings the series record to a 20-20 tie.