By T. Scott Boatright
After not winning since 2019, there was only one salve to soothe the Grambling State Tigers.
Grambling opened the 2021 fall season with a 16-10 win over Tennessee State in the Black College Hall of Fame Classic at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio, and that was more than enough for a strong start to the season for GSU coach Brodrick Fobbs.
“The good thing that happened yesterday is we got an opportunity to play in the fall,” Fobbs said.
”We got an opportunity to play with our entire football team. Even though it was an ugly win, we were able to come away with a victory. Not too many people know this, but we hadn’t won a game since November of 2019. That has a lot to do with the pandemic and what we’ve gone through for two years, but also what happened in the spring.
“So it was exciting to take a group of young men and to get them all on the same page — our coaching staff did a really good job of disciplining our players and organizing our team. And I thought the difference in the ballgame was our organization, our discipline, our game plan and the lack of mistakes on our part.”
The good: “I thought he really did a good job with his legs,” Fobbs said. “I thought there were a few times where there was an opportunity to make throws and he elected to run anyway. We’ve got to make sure we give him confidence in the passing game. We have playmakers out there who can make plays. We’ve got to get the ball to them.”
Something to work on: “We didn’t throw the ball well,” Fobbs said. “We didn’t pitch and catch well. But it is a start. Of course we’re going to have to play better … we’re playing to win the league and we’re playing to do what we want to accomplish. But it is a start. It is good to correct our players after winning a football game.”
Takeaways from a much-needed win:
• Grambling earned its first victory since the 2019 Bayou Classic, snapping a five game-losing streak
• GSU also broke a six-game losing streak in neutral site games
• GSU head coach Broderick Fobbs earned his second opening day victory
• Grambling extends its series win streak over Tennessee State to six games
• Elijah Walker, who was named the game’s offensive MVP, went 4-of-11 passing for 43 yards with one interception and one touchdown while leading Grambling’s ground game with 77 yards on 17 carries.
Points to consider:
Fobbs said he felt good about his defense after their performance against Tennessee State.
Defensively, Grambling’s Kenan Fontenot, the defensive MVP, topped the team with eight tackles, including six solo stops, along with a key pass breakup to secure the win for the G-Men.
Joshua Reed added six tackles and a half sack for the G-Men.
Special accolades: GSU junior kicker/punter Garrett Urban was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Specialist of the Week, the conference announced on Monday.
Urban played a key factor in Grambling State’s 16-10 win against Tennessee State on Sunday in the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic. The Houston, Texas native punted the ball six times for 246 yards, averaging 41.0 yards per punt, with a long of 51 yards. In addition, Urban booted a 24-yard field goal with 9:48 remaining in regulation to give GSU the 16-10 advantage.
Fobbs’ Final Say: “It’s the first true game in more than a year. It’s Elijah’s real first start, so of course there’s going to be some growing pains. I like the fact we only had four penalties. … That was a really clean game played by us. We just have to play better in the passing game. I think Tennessee State’s staff did a good job of taking the air out of the ball. That limited opportunities for us, and when you do that, it’s hard to score a lot of points. But we fought through it against a really good team out there.”
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Photo: GSU Athletics
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