By T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT, Lincoln Parish Journal
GRAMBLING — A winning total on the home scoreboard is always a beautiful thing.
But sometimes the scenic route isn’t the way a team gets there. Sometimes the road to a win can be a bit rocky at times, not always pretty.
That’s the way Grambling State head coach Hue Jackson felt after watching his Tigers earn their first win of the season after defeating Florida Memorial 58-22 Saturday afternoon at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium.
“I’m excited for our staff and for our players,” Jackson said. “We love to win. There’s no question about it, we won’t trade a win for anything.
“But this game still just showed us some things we just have to get better at, and that’s what I told the team in the locker room. I gave them all the congratulations for the win, but we’ve got a lot of work to get to where we want to go.
“We’re not a finished project by any stretch of the imagination, and we shouldn’t be. But I also understand that there’s some glaring things that we need to fix, and we need to fix them quickly.”
Florida Memorial actually lit up the scoreboard first on a 23-yard field goal at the 4:37 mark of the opening stanza and kept things tight for much of the first half, pulling within a touchdown of the Tigers at 16-9 (the Lions’ extra point kick attempt was blocked) with 5:32 remaining in the second quarter.
Grambling’s first two touchdowns came on a 25-yard scoring strike from quarterback Myles Crawley to receiver Javon Robinson followed by a four-yard plunge to paydirt by running back Keilon Elder.
Slowly, but surely, the G-Men grabbed control, taking a 23-9 lead into the locker room at halftime after Crawley connected with Chance Williams on a 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:31 left in the second quarter.
Grambling went up 30-9 only 2:51 into the second half as linebacker Lewis Matthews returned an interception 32 yards to score.
Then Grambling answered an FMU TD with four straight of its own, starting with a 67-yard pass from Crawley to Tylon Williams, who looked like he would be knocked out of bounds for a short gain but instead somehow kept his balance and stayed inbounds, sprinting down the right sideline for a score.
The Tigers followed with three straight scoring scampers — a two-yarder by Floyd Chalk, an 18-yarder by Dajon Richard and a nine-yarder by backup quarterback Julian Calvez, who spent most of last season as GSU’s starting signal caller.
Despite ending up on the losing side of the scoreboard, Florida Memorial outgained the Tigers, totaling 445 yards of offense compared to 405 for GSU.
Jackson wasn’t surprised by FMU’s high-octane offense, but was concerned to see the Lions total 233 yards on the ground.
“They’ve scored on everybody,” Jackson said. “They’ve scored on every team they’ve played. Every game they’ve played has been high-scoring games. What I was disappointed in was how they rushed the ball. We’ve got to get better at stopping the run.
Crawley connected on 14-of-yards for 220 yards and three scores, but Jackson said he was left wanting more.
“I thought — and he’ll be the first to tell you, that I thought he was a little inconsistent out there today,” Jackson said of the junior transfer quarterback. “I thought there were some things he did well. He threw a few touchdowns. When you don’t turn it over, that gives us a chance to win.
“But the consistency wasn’t there. Because I know how good he could be, I expect a little more.”
Crawley understood and agreed with Jackson’s assessment.
“I ain’t going to lie, I didn’t feel like I was myself really today,” Crawley said. “Like I told my guys, Personally, I didn’t prep enough, you know what I’m saying, for this game to be at my best potential. I don’t think I played that well even though the score says what it says. But we’re going to get better day in and day out.”
“It’s easy fixes, and it’ll be fixed by next week.”
Tylon Williams broke the century mark in receiving yards for Grambling, hauling in three passes for 102 yards and his score.
Grambling opens Southwestern Athletic Conference play next Saturday at home with Texas Southern, which stands at 0-3 after falling 59-7 at Rice.
Contact Scott at email@example.com