GRAMBLING,La. — Dawrence Roberts helped Grambling keep their SWAC championship ambition alive as he rushed in the game-winning touchdown Saturday in the G-Men 26-23 upset over Jackson State University.
Roberts’ career high 201 yards on 23 carries for two touchdowns was enough to put Grambling (5-4, 4-3 SWAC) in first place of the SWAC West leading Prairie View (4-5, 4-3 SWAC) by one game.
“The biggest thing about him is heart and determination,” said assistant coach Andre Robinson. “He’s out to prove that he is better than everybody on the field.”
In the first quarter Roberts was a non- factor. He only rushed for five yards on one carry. Slowly but surely Jackson State felt the wrath of “DawRuns” Roberts;he compiled 196 yards throughout the next three quarters.
In the second quarter he upped his productivity, but not by much; he ran for 26 yards. Grambling still led the first half 12-6 thanks to a duo of long bombs from kicker Zoltan Riazzo and one of “Super” Mario Louis’ star plays. Thirty-three seconds before halftime Frank Rivers connected with Louis on a short pass, Louis then broke free for a 73- yard touchdown. Rivers was six of 17 for 151 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Dawrence’s minimal productivity from the first half ceased and in the third quarter “DawRuns” came alive by pilling up 68-yards. The major yardage gained for Roberts was to no avail, as the Tigers couldn’t register a single point. They were facing a 16-12 deficit due to a touchdown pass to Rico Richardson from Casey Therriault and a 36- yard field goal from Jabril Smith.
Thanks to forceful blocks from the six great linemen led by All-American Sanford Banks and redshirt sophomore Clint Marsh, Roberts ran through Jackson State by gaining 102 yards two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
”Our offensive line is doing great,” said Robinson. “200 yards speak for it self.”
At the 11:27 mark he erupted for a 76-yard touchdown to make it 19- 23. The Tigers offense then became stagnant and Jackson State, who held the league’s best record (7-1, 6-1 SWAC) and was fresh off a 44-14 obliterating win over Prairie View, were seemingly on their way to their fifth consecutive victory.
Late in the game they were leading 23-19 and their defense just forced a punt after a Grambling four-and-out situation. Antonio Sutton muffed the punt by Fabien Carter; GSU’s special teams defense recovered the ball and with 1:24 remaining Roberts sealed a three-play 18- yard drive with a 10-yard rushing touchdown.
Roberts’ quick score gave Therriault, Jackson State’s 2011 Walter Payton award nominee who threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns, ample time to score. All game the young gunslinger had been darting JSU’s receivers, but in their drive to keep them alive he couldn’t find a bull’s-eye. With 1:18 left in regulation Therriault drove JSU down 53 yards to the GSU 14 yard line in five plays, targeting three different receivers. On the sixth and final play with just about 13 seconds remaining, the G-Men’s clutch defense blanketed all JSU receivers and Therriault’s heroics were eradicated. He was forced to throw the ball away as time expired and Jackson State winning streak ends.
“Being that we have experienced players with loads of talent we don’t get rattled in tough situations,” said linebacker Nic Powell.
The Tigers are currently on a four game winning streak. The last three-games came down to seven or less points and in the last two the defense was the savior.
The Tigers now control their own destiny. They’ll have to win the rest of their games to play for the SWAC championship. The Tigers have two games left and Roberts currently has 841 yards, if “DawRuns” for 159 more yards he’ll add to Grambling list of 1000- yard rushers.
The Tigers next game will be Saturday in Robinson Stadium against Texas Southern, the team that prevented them from competing in the SWAC championship last year. Kick off begins at 2p.m.