HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In what is becoming a regular occurrence in this series, Alabama A&M (2-4, 2-1 SWAC) rallied in double overtime to take down Grambling (1-5, 0-3 SWAC) 37-31 in an NCAA Division I football game on Saturday, October 8.
THE STATS - ALABAMA A&M
Sophomore running back Donovan Eaglin (Houston, Texas) delivered another dominating performance, finishing with 126 yards on the ground and a pair of scores, including the eventual game-winner, to lead the Bulldogs.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback Quincy Casey (Memphis, Tenn.) came on in relief and went 17-of-25 for 188 yards, a pair of touchdowns and caught a pass for 27 yards while senior wideout Isiah Cox (Jasper, Ala.) caught four balls for 46 yards and a touchdown.
He would also connect with Casey on that 27-yard throw and junior tight end Bryson Clark (Delray Beach, Fla.) finished with a pair of catches and 44 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Keenan Hambrick (Athens, Ala.) would add four grabs for 27 yards and a TD and senior running back Harold Jemison, Jr. (Nashville, Tenn.) notched a score to round out the top offensive performers.
Defensively, senior safety JaBraun McNeal (Gadsden, Ala.) led the way with nine tackles, five solo and 1.5 for loss, to go with a seven-yard sack while senior linebacker Dre Terry (Roanoke Rapids, N.C.) had five stops, two for loss and the biggest one of the game as he picked up a sack to end the game. They were joined by freshman safety Avian Rice (Fort Myers, Fla.) with seven tackles and an interception to round things out.
Grambling would possess the ball for nearly five and a half minutes to start the game but would end up dropping a 32-yard punt after eight plays. They would do more in the next 11 seconds, however, as Chandler Moncrief strip sacked junior quarterback Xavier Lankford (Pelham, Ala.) to get the ball right back.
They would end up losing a yard over six plays but the final one of those would result in a 31-yard field goal from Garrett Urban, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead at the 5:44 mark.
The Bulldogs would recover right away, however, as Eaglin dominated their next possession, churning up 48 of the 70 yards on the drive, capping it with a 26-yard touchdown run up the gut to pull ahead 7-3 at the very end of the opening frame. He would get that opportunity as A&M converted a 4th and 1 from the GSU 39-yard line as Lankford hit Jemison for a four-yard pick up to keep the drive alive.
If you blinked you would miss Grambling's next possession as it lasted all of two plays and saw the ball end up in the hands of Rice at the Tigers' 45-yard line to set the Bulldogs up. An unsportsmanlike penalty moved them back and stunted that drive and started a trend as the next three possessions were fruitless, maintaining that four-point margin. Alabama A&M would then put together a sustained drive just outside of five minutes, chewing up 4:06 and covering 73 yards in 13 plays. The last of those would be a 43-yard field goal attempt that fell short and gave the ball over to Grambling.
Taking over at their own 26-yard line, Quaterius Hawkins hit Lyndon Rash for 63 yards on the second play of the drive, taking it down to the Bulldogs six. Those two would hook up again on the very next play for a six-yard TD to pull ahead 10-7 with 21 seconds on the clock, a margin they would take to the break following a kneel down.
Neither team would get anywhere with their first possessions in the third but that would change with A&M's second drive. Eaglin would pound away for 30 yards on the ground and Cox would find Casey on a double pass for 27 yards from the GSU 43-yard line.
One play later Casey would return the favor as he dropped the ball into Cox's hands for a 13-yard touchdown that flipped the script and put them up 14-10 with 7:18 on the clock. In lightning quick fashion, that drive covered 87 yards in nine plays and 3:13.
The momentum would stay with the Bulldogs as a pair of Grayson High School grads in sophomore safety Marvin Smith (Loganville, Ga.) and senior defensive end Hayden Gilford (Loganville, Ga.) combined to force and recover a fumble on GSU's next possession and once again setup the Bulldogs.
That came at the eight-yard line, and while Alabama A&M wouldn't move the ball, they wouldn't have to as redshirt-freshman kicker Victor Barbosa (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.) would connect on a 29-yard field goal to stretch to a 17-10 advantage with 4:10 left in the frame.
The Tigers would then deliver a massive 12-play, 76-yard drive that took 5:05, bridged the quarter gap and resulted in a two-yard touchdown run from Chance Aime to knot it up at 17-17 just over a minute into the fourth.
In a game of can you top this, the Bulldogs would answer right back as senior wide receivers Cameron Young (Daphne, Ala.) and Terrell Gardner (Birmingham, Ala.) scampered for 28 yards and caught a 23-yard pass, respectively, to fuel a nine-play, 75-yard drive. That capped with Jemison pounding his way between the tackles from two yards out to go up 24-17 at the 10:21 mark.
The teams would then trade punts before GSU put together another long drive, this one covering 71 yards and 10 plays in 3:13. That would be a game-tying drive that would see Maurice Washington plunge in from six yard out after the Tigers converted two third downs and a fourth down to tie it up at 24-24 with just 29 seconds on the clock. The Bulldogs would then be content to send it to overtime with a kneel down.
That first possession in the extra session would go to Grambling and Julian Calvez would make the big play, connecting with Noah Bean from 26-yards out for a TD that put them up 31-24. Needing to hit paydirt to keep their hopes alive, it took all of three plays to do just that as he hit Cox for 16 yards on the second play and connected with Hambrick from seven yards out and Barbosa nailed the kick to deadlock at 31-31.
Getting the ball right back on alternating possession, the Bulldogs took advantage with redshirt-senior tight end Kendric Johnson (New Market, Ala.) hauling in a 20-yard grab on second down to take the ball down to the two. From there it would be the Donovan Eaglin show again as he toted the rock between the tackles for the go-ahead score on the next play.
It would stay at 37-31 with the failed two-point conversion attempt, presenting GSU with the opportunity to pull off the come-from-behind victory. Three straight incompletions would put that in serious doubt and Terry would end all possibility of it as he drilled Calvez when he tried to step up on fourth down, driving him back and down for the game-ending sack to seal the six-point victory.
THE STATS – GRAMBLING
Hawkins went 4-for-9 under center for 73 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers while Calvez finished 8-of-17 with a touchdown and a pick. On the ground Washington came away with 39 yards and a score and Aime had 38 yards with a TD. Rash, on the strength of his 63-yard catch, finished with four grabs for 86 yards to round out the offense.
Moncrief led the defense with seven tackles, one for loss, a sack and forced and recovered fumble while Sundiata Anderson finished with 11 tackles. Joshua Reed and Chris Daigre each added eight stops to close out the top performances on defense.
The Bulldogs will now hit the road for 42 days, beginning with seeing what its like to play on Sunday's for their next game. That will come on Sunday, October 16 when they travel to St. Louis, Missouri for the St. Louis River City HBCU Football Classic against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Game time is set for 3 p.m. at the Dome at the Center of America.