Grambling holds off Alcorn to win SWAC title

Published 8:46 pm Saturday, December 2, 2017

HOUSTON — When the curtain came down on the championship game era in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, it seemed fitting that the team that has won more of them than anyone was standing tall.

Devante Kincade threw two touchdown passes and added 75 yards and two more scores on the ground to lead Grambling State to a 40-32 victory over Alcorn State in the SWAC championship game on Saturday.

Grambling won the league’s title game — which was started in 1999 and is being discontinued after this season — for the eighth time. It is the program’s 26th SWAC title overall.

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Grambling (11-1) will next play in the Celebration Bowl Dec. 16 in Atlanta, against North Carolina A&T.
The Tigers scored 30 straight points Saturday after Alcorn (7-5) tied it at 10 on a 21-yard field goal by Corey McCullough late in the first quarter.

Kincade threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Jones, and his 4-yarder to Quintin Guice just before halftime gave the Tigers a 38-10 lead. Martez Carter ran for a 5-yard touchdown and Marc Orozco kicked a 48-yard field goal in the first half.

The Tigers finished with 439 yards of offense but had just 76 yards in the second half, a slump that nearly allowed Alcorn to make a miraculous comeback.

Trailing by 30 early in the fourth, the Braves mounted a furious rally. Quarterback Lenorris Footman threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Norlando Veals, and his 5-yard touchdown run ahead of a 6-yard scoring run by De’Lance Turner, and a successful 2-point conversion pass to Veals, capped the scoring with 1:50 left.

Grambling recovered the ensuing onside kick and then went three-and-out, but Miguel Mendez punted the ball 40 yards to the Braves 2, and Alcorn State had the ball with 46 seconds left. Footman led the Braves on a 10-play drive to the Grambling 43, but his Hail Mary attempt was short.

Footman was 20-of-34 passing for 307 yards with a touchdown pass and run for Alcorn State, which was making its fourth straight SWAC title game appearance. De’Lance Turner ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and Marquis Warford caught seven passes for 131 yards. The Braves finished with 502 yards.

Alcorn and Grambling were playing for the conference title for the third year in a row. They had split the previous two meetings.