Southern downs Grambling 40-17 in Bayou Classic

As much as Grambling could have used a morale-boosting triumph

in the Bayou Classic, Dray Joseph and the Southern Jaguars were not

going to let that happen.

Joseph and Lee Dross connected for three touchdowns and Southern

defeated Grambling 40-17 Saturday.

The result left the Tigers (1-11, 0-8 Southwestern Athletic

Conference) with the program’s worst-ever overall record to close a

season which will be remembered more for a mid-season player

walkout than anything on the field.

”I’m OK with that because you know what? One thing it did is

brought a lot of attention to this one game,” Grambling coach

Dennis ”Dirt” Winston said. ”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.”

Despite all the losses, Grambling offensive lineman Clint Marsh

said the season ”went fairly decent with what we got accomplished

for the younger players and the future of Grambling.”

”That’s what I wanted the young players to know – when you

stick together as a team, there’s nothing that you can’t

overcome,” Marsh said.

Next for Grambling is the administration’s decision regarding

who to hire as permanent head coach.

Winston, who was in charge only for Grambling’s last four games,

led the Tigers to their only victory and two close losses before

the Bayou Classic. He said he’d like the job, but is under the

impression that McNeese State tight-ends coach Roderick Fobbs is

the favorite to take over.

”I’m just going to do the best job I can do until they tell me,

`Hey, you’re fired,”’ Winston said. ”Until something is

permanent, I’m going to continue to work, continue to recruit,

continue to talk to these players.”

Marsh said Winston, a former NFL linebacker and former assistant

under legendary former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson, did a good

job keeping players together and making the Tigers more

competitive.

”I talk to a lot of the players. They really, really do like

coach Winston,” Marsh said. ”It’s more than just a football team,

it’s a family. I really don’t want them to split and I think the

best chance of avoiding a split is if coach Winston is still the

coach.”

Southern (8-4, 7-2) had already won the SWAC’s Western Division

and will head to the league championship game against Jackson State

in Houston on Dec. 7.

But the Jaguars had no interest in letting up on their

struggling rivals, racing to a 27-3 halftime lead on a short

scoring run by Lenard Tillery and TD catches of 17 and 30 yards by

Doss.

”Momentum is everything in college football, so just going into

the next game with a victory is a great deal for us,” Joseph said.

”Jackson State has been sitting there preparing for us for three

weeks and they probably watched this game today, so just having the

momentum going for us next week is a great thing for us.”

Grambling pulled to 27-17 on Johnathan Williams’ touchdown

passes of 11 yards to Robert Bailey and 8 yards to Anthony McGhee.

But in the fourth quarter, Southern’s defense thwarted the comeback

attempt by forcing turnovers. Williams was intercepted by defensive

back Virgil Williams. Later, Williams lost a fumble on a sack by

linebacker Daniel Brown.

Williams, who moved into a starting role after an injury to

season-opening starter D.J. Williams, finished 14 of 21 for 123

yards.

Doss finished with six catches for 117 yards and surpassed the

1,000-yard mark for the season. Tillery gained 104 yards on 19

carries.

Grambling’s season took a historic turn when players walked out

on several days of practice and Jackson State’s Oct. 19 homecoming

game in protest of the conditions under which they trained and

traveled, citing in particular their long bus rides to Indianapolis

and Kansas City.

Player complaints included decrepit practice and training

facilities, including a torn-up weight room floor, which was

replaced after their protest.

The seeds of revolt were planted in September with the firing of

head coach Doug Williams, who is one of the school’s most famous

alumni, having won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins.

Williams was first replaced by George Ragsdale, who went 0-5

before being replaced by Winston during the week of the

walkout.

The walkout lasted one game, which was forfeited. The SWAC fined

Grambling $20,000 and ordered the Tigers to play at Jackson State

the next three seasons.

Those associated with Grambling hope long-term effects of the

protest eventually include a better relationship between prominent

football alumni and the university’s administration so they may

rebuild trust with prospective donors who have the ability to

address some of the program’s ills quickly.

Yet, during the game, it was apparent that wasn’t going to

happen overnight. Doug Williams attended the game, watching most of

it by himself in the Superdome press box before heading down to the

Grambling sideline in the final minutes.

He said he wanted to support his son, D.J., and the many players

he recruited, but otherwise declined comment on the extent to which

any healing has taken place.

”I think it’s better if I stay out of it,” he said.

Marsh said relationships between current players and the

administration is not entirely restored yet, either.

”There’s a lot more that could be done,” Marsh said.