New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - There was talk in the offseason of switching the Bayou Classic matchup, but fans will be clamoring for more of the same after Southern's 52-45 thriller over Grambling State on Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Southern denied Grambling's Jonathan Williams on a quarterback sneak just inches from the Jaguars' goal line on the game's final play. Running Jestin Kelly tried to push Williams forward, but four defenders pushed back.
It brought an end to a wild game that sent Southern (9-3, 8-1) to the Southwestern Athletic Conference's West Division and back to the conference championship game next Saturday in Houston against Alcorn State. Grambling (7-5, 7-2) finished second in the West Division after its second straight defeat.
Southern's Lenard Tillery rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, while freshman quarterback Austin Howard passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns. The Jaguars never trailed in the game and had much as a 21- point lead.
Williams was masterful for Grambling with 500 yards of total offense. He was 33-for-64 for 450 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, and rushed for 50 yards on 20 carries.
Chester Rogers caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, while Verlon Hunter had 12 receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Grambling made some big plays on special teams. Ka'Jandre Domino scored on a 99-yard kickoff return early in the third quarter and Tyree Hollins blocked a field goal attempt with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter to set up the Tigers' final drive - which ended inches short of a potential tying touchdown.
The Jaguars have a 32-30 overall series lead and went ahead 21-20 in the Bayou Classic.