HOUSTON – The Willie Simmons era started off on the right foot as the Prairie View A&M Panthers rolled up nearly 500 yards of total offense combined with a stingy defensive effort as they reclaimed the Labor Day Classic trophy after a 38-11 win over Texas Southern at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Panthers received the opening kick and wasted no time in establishing its presence on the ground as redshirt junior quarterback Trey Green broke several tackles and raced 80 yards for an early 7-0 lead following Owen Hoolihan’s PAT. On their second offensive drive, the Panthers were on the verge of another successful ending but an untimely fumble in the backfield gave the ball back to TSU at its own 21.
With Saturday’s rivalry in full effect, TSU pulled out its bag of tricks early on as they converted a fake punt on its next possession but the PVAMU defense didn’t bend as they forced TSU to punt four plays later. The Panther offense began to stall after its earlier drives and the momentum began to swing in TSU’s favor as they drove deep in PVAMU territory. However, the Tigers came up short as Eric Medina’s 32-yard field goal was wide.
The Panthers had to punt once again but the defense came up big as linebacker Brandon Medina recorded a big interception which ended at the TSU 40. Redshirt senior running back Courtney Brown moved the Panthers into the red zone with a 26-yard run but the Panthers had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Hoolihan for the early 10-0 lead at the 7:14 mark of the second quarter.
TSU responded on its next drive with a pair of big third down conversions to drive down the field but a big sack by defensive end Ahkeem Barton moved TSU out of the red zone as they settled for a 38-yard field goal with 1:48 left in the second quarter. PVAMU’s last drive of the quarter ended with a 54-yard punt by Hoolihan as TSU ran the clock out heading into halftime.
The Panther defense set the tone in the third quarter as they forced a punt and the offense began to slowly find its groove as Green connected with Demarquo Lastrappe for a huge 37-yard completion on 3rd-and-13 to the PVAMU 40. Three plays later, Green found Andrew Michael for a 43-yard reception which eventually turned into a 58-yard gain after a TSU personal foul. With the ball at the TSU 9, Green connected with Nick Pitre to move closer to the end zone and Green scored from two yards out for a 17-7 lead after the PAT with 9:03 left in the quarter.
Redshirt junior defensive end Jamespaul Bryant led the latest defensive charge as he intercepted a TSU pass. The offense returned with a swagger as the running game began to impose its will as Brown and Johnta’ Hebert combined to rush for 47 yards as Hebert scored from 11 yards out en route to a 24-3 lead at the 6:11 mark.
After another TSU punt near the close of the third quarter, the offense continued to excel as Green found Nick Pitre for a 7-yard pass in the end zone for a 31-3 lead after the PAT to open the fourth quarter. TSU would return to the scoreboard with a touchdown and two-point conversion two possessions later but the Panther offense, led by redshirt senior quarterback De’Auntre Smiley and redshirt senior running back Fred Anderson, powered the offense down the field as Anderson scored from a 1-yard out for the game’s final score.
Prairie View A&M finished with 457 yards (290 R, 167 P) on 76 offensive plays while allowing 291 yards defensively. Green combined for three touchdowns as he rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries while throwing for 167 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-27 passing. In his first game in two seasons, Brown led PVAMU with 88 yards on nine carries followed by 55 yards and a touchdown from Hebert and 50 yards and a touchdown from Anderson.
Jalan Coleman led the defense with nine tackles and sack while Barton finished with 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
The Panthers hit the road next week and will step up in class as they’ll face FBS member Texas State at 6 p.m. in San Marcos, Texas.