By T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT, Lincoln Parish Journal
GRAMBLING — Thunder and lightning ripped across the Grambling State University campus late Friday night into early Saturday as a line of storms roared across north Louisiana.
On Saturday afternoon, “Thunder” and “Lightning” struck the GSU campus again, this time on the field of Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium as Grambling celebrated Homecoming by playing host to the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Tigers’ run game, with senior Maurice Washington and true freshman Floyd Chalk IV, combined with a dominating defense to make it a joyous Homecoming as Grambling stormed past UAPB 36-10 before a crowd of more than 13,000 fans on a beautiful afternoon. It was the second straight victory for the Tigers (3-6, 2-4 in the SWAC).
Washington, the bigger of the two at 6-1 and 215 pounds, provided the lightning while the 5-9,185-pound Chalk – who runs much bigger and harder than his size might indicate — brought the thunder, running head on into defenders and breaking multiple tackles before being brought down.
Grambling used Chalk to pound the middle and soften up the Golden Lions’ defense enough for Washington to use his lightning speed to burst around the edge and breakaway for big yardage.
Washington led the G-Men with 201 yards on only 10 carries, scoring on runs of 75 and 56 yards while ripping off 23 yards on another run to account for more than half of his total yardage. He added a 14-yard reception for good measure.
Chalk powered his way for 79 yards on 13 carries while Dedric Talbert added 26 yards on six rushes, including a four-yard scoring scamper with 4:23 remaining. Senior CJ Russell chipped in an eight-yard touchdown run.
The complement of GSU’s thundering and lighting ground game totaled 348 rushing yards on 41 carries for an average of 8.5 yards per attempt.
“That (dynamic) is important,” first-year Grambling coach Hue Jackson said of the diverse skills of his running back corps. “And we had another young man (true freshman Chance Williams) who didn’t play today. He was dressed, but has been sick all week.
“We feel like we have some really good runners. They’re growing, they’re getting better. I give our coaches a lot of credit. They did a great job this week. They came up with a great plan and the guys were able to execute it in the running game. We’ve just got to continue to grow.”
But Jackson also realized that it was Washington, playing his final game at Robinson Stadium, that was the dominating force on Senior Day.
“Obviously Maurice is special,” Jackson said. “I think we all know that. As I tell him when he practices and he’s focused on what we’re doing, he’s as good as anybody. He had a tremendous game today.
“I think all of our runners ran extremely well. Give our offensive line a lot of credit. I thought they did a great job of blocking. They just have to continue to grow. We’ve got another tough game on the road next week, and we’ve got to get better.”
Grambling State opened scoring on Russell’s rumble to the end zone with 6:10 remaining in the opening stanza.
UAPB (2-7, 0-6) had a scoring opportunity early in the second quarter on a 23-yard field goal attempt, but the Tigers’ Rey Estes broke through the Golden Lions’ line to make the block and turn the ball back over to the Tigers.
Grambling maintained that 7-0 edge at intermission, but scored on the first play from scrimmage in the second half as Washington struck on his 75-yard burst to paydirt.
The Golden Lions’ first score came on a 22-yard field goal at the 10:07 mark of the third quarter. The visitors, playing with an interim head coach, notched their lone touchdown with 5:23 mark of that period to cut GSU’s lead to 22-10 before GSU’s Julian Calvez hit paydirt on a four-yard quarterback keeper and Talbert added his TD run.
While the Tigers celebrated the dominating Homecoming win, Jackson admitted it was by no means perfect.
The big thorn in his side was the discrepancy in penalties, with UAPB being hit with only one five-yarder while the Tigers were flagged eight times for 66 yards.
On the season, Grambling’s plethora of penalties has seen the Tigers flagged 97 times for 793 yards, for an average of 10.8 penalties per game.
“I’m beside myself,” Jackson admitted. “I wrack my brain. I’ve been coaching football a long time and I haven’t seen it like this, but I know our guys are trying. Maybe they were trying too hard, I don’t know. We’ll think through it as coaches and evaluate it.
“But we’ve got to solve it, because as we keep going it’s going to be crucial that we don’t make those particular errors because they could stop us from winning.”
After three straight home games, the G-Men return to the road next week as they play at Texas Southern at 6 p.m. Saturday.
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