HARRISON, N.J. — Grambling State’s offense did its part Saturday, but the Tigers’ defense couldn’t contain Hampton quarterback Christopher Zellous.
The Pirates’ passer ran for two scores and threw for two more, spearheading a 35-31 Hampton victory in the inaugural Brick City HBCU Classic at Red Bull Arena.
It was the season opener for both squads, each coming off a losing season. Grambling was 3-8 in its first season under former NFL head coach Hue Jackson, while Hampton went 4-7.
Grambling scored more Saturday than it did in seven games last year. But the Tigers’ defense, which allowed 33 points per game last year, couldn’t come up with enough stops of Zellous and the Pirates.
His TD runs came from 22 and 11 yards in the second half, with the second one pushing Hampton to a two-score, 35-25 advantage with 3:08 to go. Grambling answered on a 3-yard Chance Williams run with 57 seconds left, but missed the extra point and couldn’t recover an ensuing onside kick.
Grambling drove 75 yards in 21 plays on the opening series, going up 6-0 after a failed two-point conversion try. Hampton also scored on its opening drive, and the PAT kick put the Pirates ahead. After the G-Men got a field goal, Zellous tossed two scoring strikes to move Hampton on top to stay.
The Tigers trailed 21-9 at halftime, but rallied within 28-25 with 13:26 remaining on Myles Cawley’s 36-yard hookup with Lyndon Rush and a two-point conversion.
Zellous finished with 14 of 25 for 155 yards passing and 114 yards rushing on 15 carries. The Pirates got another 103 yards rushing from Darran Butts, including a 40-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers got 311 passing yards on 25-of-38 aim from Crawley, who tossed a pair of TD passes. Grambling’s top receiver was Rash, who snared eight passes for 90 yards and the touchdown.
Hampton outgained Grambling 434-411.
The Grambling defense did collect a postgame honor. Javon Carter was named the game’s Defensive Most Valuable Player for making eight tackles, including a tackle for loss and a sack.