By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Grambling erased a 17-0 halftime deficit, with SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Devante Kincaide throwing two touchdown passes, to come from behind to defeat Alcorn State 27-20 to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship Saturday.
It is Grambling's first SWAC title since 2011 and the school's 25th overall. They now head to Atlanta to take on MEAC champ North Carolina Central in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17.
The game was truly one of two halves as Alcorn State dominated the first half. Lenorris Footman led Alcorn State, the who won SWAC titles in 2014 and 2015, with 154 yards passing and ran for 32 yards during a first half in which he ran for a touchdown and drove the Braves downfield to set up a field goal. Then early in the second quarter, De'Lance Turner ripped off a 69-yard TD run that put the Braves up 17-0.
During the same span, Grambling was forced to punt four times and fumbled another drive away. They only had two drives with at least seven plays.
The second half was completely different.
Alcorn State could only muster a field goal after halftime, with that coming on their longest drive of the second half - seven plays for 49 yards.
At the same time, the G-Men went to work. Marquez Carter returned the second half kickoff 73 yards to the Alcorn State 25. Four plays later, Kincaide threw a 29-yard TD to Verlan Hunter to put Grambling on the board.
The Grambling defense forced a four-and-out by Alcorn State, after which Kincaide led Grambling downfield. A drive keyed by his 31-yard pass to Hunter and a 33-yarder to Chad Williams ended on a Lyndemian Brock one-yard TD run midway through the third quarter to pull Grambling to three at 17-14.
After a ASU field goal early in the fourth quarter, Kincaide led Grambling downfield again. He then completed a 26-yard pass to Carter, but Carter fumbled. Grambling recovered at the 2-yard line and then Kincaide threw a two-yard TD toss to Dominique Leake. Their extra point was blocked and the game was tied at 20 with 7:25 left in the game.
Alcorn State still couldn't move the ball against a stiffened-up Grambling defense as they followed-up with another four-and-out.
And then on the next drive, Carter had big runs of 22 yards and 15 yards and then ended what proved to be the game-winning drive with a 31-yard touchdown run to give Grambling their first lead at 27-20 with 3:38 remaining.
Footman was intercepted on the next drive, but Grambling was forced to punt after seven plays. Alcorn State got the ball with 1:18 left, with Footman driving them to the Grambling 33. But his final pass fell incomplete and Grambling had the school's 25th SWAC title.
Kincaide finished with 237 yards and two TDs passing, while Carter piled up 136 yards and a TD on the ground to lead Grambling. Williams caught six passes for 103 yards.
Footman led Alcorn State with 259 yards passing and had a TD rushing. Turner rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown.
The Alcorn State defense sacked Kincaide eight times, a SWAC title game record. Footman was sacked four times by Grambling.
"I'm humbled that we were able to win a championship, even more so how we did it," Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs according to the Houston Chronicle. "It's something to say about a team that's down and they show their character by coming back and playing the way they played in the second half."