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txso_logoTexas Southern scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then stopped Grambling on 4th-and-goal from the two to preserve a 41-34 comeback win that gives the Tigers the lead in the SWAC West Division and puts it in the driver¹s seat to represent the division in the Dec. 11 conference championship game with one game left in the regular season.

TSU quarterback Arvell Nelson, who had struggled early, scored the go-ahead touchdown in the first possession of overtime on a 10-yard run. On its possession, Grambling advanced to the two before the TSU defense stuffed GSU running back Frank Warren on fourth down setting off a wild celebration by the TSU faithful.

TSU (7-3, 7-1 SWAC W), tenth in the latest Black College Sports Page ranking, can clinch the West Division title and championship game berth with a win in Houston next week over Arkansas-Pine Bluff or a Grambling loss in its final game in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 27 vs. Southern.

Grambling (8-2, 7-1) had entered the contest as the No. 1 team in the Black College Sports Page ranking, the Sheridan Broadcasting Network poll and the BASN/Box To Row poll. The G-Men were also ranked 20th in the latest FCS poll. TSU was unranked.

It was the biggest victory yet for head coach Johnnie Cole, a TSU alum who has patiently and methodically built the Tigers into championship contenders in his three years at the helm. After watching cross-town rival Prairie View win its first championship in 45 years last year under head coach Henry Frazier, Cole, the former Lane head coach and offensive assistant at Tennessee State and Alabama State, is in position a year later to lead TSU to its first conference title since 1968.

"This is all about Texas Southern," said a jubilant and defiant Cole, who was shedding tears of joy on the field after the victory.

Nelson, who rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 177 yards and one score, threw three interceptions that enabled Grambling to take a lead after trailing early.

The see-saw contest saw Grambling score 10 first-quarter points on a Zeltan Riazzo 39-yard field goal that opened the scoring and on a 64-yard pass from QB Anthony Carrothers to wideout Kiare Thompson. TSU scored in the first quarter on Marcus Wright¹s four-yard run and in the second quarter on Nelson¹s one-yard TD run and a 38-yard Robert Hersh field goal to lead 17-10.

GSU¹s Edward Patherson tied the score at 17 at the 9:55 mark of the second quarter when he returned the kickoff following Hersh¹s field goal 95 yards to paydirt. On TSU¹s next possession, GSU¹s Derick Wilhite intercepted a Nelson pass and returned it 39 yards for a TD to put the G-Men up 24-17.

Riazzo added a 31-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer to give Grambling a 27-17 lead at the break.

The only third quarter score came on Carrothers¹ one-yard run with 4:11 left in the period. It came after Nelson, after driving TSU deep into GSU territory and facing 1st-and-goal at the Grambling 5, was picked off in the end zone by GSU¹s Bruna Foster, who returned it 97 yards to the TSU 3. Two plays later Carrothers took it in for the score. After Riazzo¹s PAT GSU had what seemed to be a comfortable 34-17 lead that they took into the fourth quarter.

But TSU¹s comeback started on its final possession of the third quarter.

Taking over at its own 17 with 1:54 left in the quarter, the Tigers, who finished the night with a whopping 342 rushing yards, covered the 83 yards on ten running plays and Nelson¹s big 42-yard hook-up with Joseph Anderson.

Martin Gilbert covered the final yard for the score. Hersh¹s PAT pulled TSU to within 34-24 with 12:40 to play.

Following the kickoff, Grambling drove into TSU's red zone, reaching the 19 before lining up for a Riazzo 36-yard field goal attempt. A botched snap however led to a 30-yard loss giving TSU the ball back at its own 49.

The Tigers needed just three plays to reach paydirt ­ a 26-yard run by Wright on first down, a five-yard pass from Nelson to Anderson followed by Nelson¹s 23-yard TD throw to Richard Samuel in the left corner of the end zone ­ that pulled TSU within 34-31. Hersh¹s PAT came with just over seven minutes left.

Grambling returned the ensuing kickoff to its own 41 but after losing one yard on first down, two consecutive false start penalties left it facing 2nd-and-21 at its own 30. Two yards were gained on the ensuing downs causing GSU to punt the ball back to TSU, who took over at its own 37 with 4:23 left.

From there, Nelson engineered a 13-play drive that carried down to the Grambling 3 with 18 seconds left. Hersh knocked thru a 20-yard field goal to tie the score at 34. After the kickoff, Grambling would run only one play before sending both teams to the extra period.

On TSU¹s possession in the overtime starting at the 25, Nelson came out throwing, hitting Willam Osborne on first down for 12 yards. Wright ran for three yards before Nelson scored on a bootleg around right end from ten yards out. Hersh added the PAT.

On Grambling¹s possession, Carrothers was sacked on first down for a five-yard loss. After an incompletion, he broke lose for a 20-yard run that gave the G-Men a first down at the TSU 10. Warren ran for three yards on first down before Carrothers threw an incompletion in the end zone on second down. On third down, Carrothers rushed to the two setting up the final play.

For the game, TSU amassed 541 yards of total offense and held the ball for nearly 38 minutes. The TSU defense held Grambling to 220 total yards, only 61 rushing yards on 14 carries for Warren, the SWAC rushing leader who came in averaging 152 yards per game.

Wright led the TSU rushing attack with 171 yards on 32 carries while Anderson had a team-best six receptions for 93 yards.


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