By Brian Howard
CANTON, OHIO — Elijah Walker earned offensive MVP honors and Kenan Fontenot was selected the defensive MVP the Grambling State Tigers held off Tennessee State, 16-10, in the Black College Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday afternoon at Tom Benson Memorial Stadium.
Tennessee State took advantage of a short field after a Grambling State punt, capping a seven-play, 21-yard drive as Antonio Zita booted a 39-yard field goal with exactly five minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Grambling State answered with a 15-play, 79-yard drive, which took over seven minutes off the clock as Jaye Patrick caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Walker, giving GSU a 7-3 advantage with 12:41 left in the second quarter.
TSU had an opportunity cut the margin right before halftime, but Zita’s 57-yard field goal attempt was short as Grambling State entered the break with a 7-3 lead.
After a GSU punt to begin the second half, Tennessee State drove 35 yards in 13 plays as Devon Starling scored on a 3-yard rushing touchdown, giving TSU a 10-7 advantage with just over seven minutes remaining in the third.
GSU’s defense and special teams provided a huge spark toward the end of the third. After a sack, Kaleb Mosely’s punt was partial blocked and three plays later, Grambling State punched the ball into the end zone. Walker’s 4-yard touchdown run gave GSU a 13-10 advantage as the extra point attempt failed with 2:22 left in the third.
GSU added one more final score with 9:48 remaining as Garrett Urban booted a 24-yard field goal as Grambling State extended the lead to 16-10.
Tennessee State had a huge opportunity on a 3rd and 23 play with 2:22 left as Deveon Bryant’s pass was broken up in the end zone by Fontenot, keeping TSU with 10 points.
CHECKING THE BOX SCORE
– Grambling State finished with 12 first downs and held the ball for 26:52
- went 4-of-11 passing with one interception and one touchdown. He threw for 43 yards
– Walker led the ground game with 77 yards on 17 carries
– CJ Russell added 36 yards on 11 touches
– Patrick caught the lone Walker touchdown pass as he recorded one catch for 18 yards
– Grambling State registered 184 total yards
– Defensively, Fontenot led the way eight tackles, including six solo stops, along with a key pass breakup
– Joshua Reed tallied six tackles and a half sack
– Tennessee State finished with 12 first downs and controlled the time of possession at 33:08
– Devon Sterling paced the ground game with 88 yards on 18 carries, along with the only TSU touchdown
– Deveon Bryant split time at quarterback with former GSU starter Geremy Hickbottom
– Bryant went 4-of-12 passing for 22 yards
– Hickbottom was 8-of-10 for 65 yards
– Vincent Perry caught nine passes for 44 yards
– Joshua Bryant led the defense with nine tackles, including eight solo stops
– Grambling State earned its first victory since the middle of November of 2019, 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 State extends its series win streak over Tennessee State to six games
– The two teams met for the first time since 2002
– GSU now leads the series 23-18-1
QUOTE FROM HEAD COACH BRODERICK FOBBS
“We didn’t play our best football team, but happy to get out of here with a win. Tennessee State is a good football team and well coached. We just continued to fight today and I am proud of our guys for fighting hard for all four quarters. We make the biggest adjustments from Week 1 to Week 2 and we are just going to enjoy this victory today.”
It’s a short week for Grambling State as the Tigers travel on Saturday to Hattiesburg, Miss. to take on Southern Miss. The Eagles fell to South Alabama, 31-7, in the season opener. Kickoff from Carlisle-Faulkner Field at M.M. Roberts Stadium is set for 6 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.