Panthers vs. Tigers: Prairie View A&M defeats Grambling State during State Fair Classic
By DIANE XAVIER The Dallas Examiner The Prairie View A&M Panthers continue their winning streak against the Grambling State Tigers at the annual State Fair Classic held at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. On [...] The post Panthers vs. Tigers: Prairie View A&M defeats Grambling State during State Fair Classic appeared first on Dallas Examiner.
By DIANE XAVIER
The Dallas Examiner
The Prairie View A&M Panthers continue their winning streak against the Grambling State Tigers at the annual State Fair Classic held at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park.
On Oct. 1, the Panthers defeated the Tigers 34-14 for the fifth straight year at the classic in front of over 50,000 fans. It was the second day of the fair and fans witnessed great 30-year rivalry between the two teams, as well as the historic battle of the bands.
The win puts the Panthers on top of the Southwestern Athletic Conference West division with a 3-2 overall record. The Tigers are in last place in the West division with a 1-4 record. Jackson State University leads the SWAC East division and overall conference with a 4-0 record.
Still, Prairie View head coach Bubba McDowell said there are many areas the Panthers need to improve on despite leading the first half 27-0.
“We came out great in the first half of football the Panthers way but for us we just have to learn to close in out and not making a scare should I say,” McDowell said. “Again, I am proud of them, and they came out the second half not like we wanted but again, we got the win.”
Prairie View had a strong defensive performance in the first half of the game, shutting out Grambling and forcing turnovers, penalties and breaking up the Tigers receiving game.
However, in the second half and third quarter, Tigers head coach Hue Jackson, replaced starting quarterback Quaterius Hawkins with freshman Julian Calvez.
Calvez led the Tigers to its first score with 4:42 left in the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run. The drive took five plays and 70 yards with only 1:40 to score the first touchdown for Grambling, who only produced two first downs in the first half of the game. Then, with 1:22 left in the third quarter, Calvez drove the ball down the field again with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Noah Bean.
Despite the Tigers forcing a comeback and threat to the Panthers team, Grambling once again had multiple turnovers in the fourth quarter, first with Calvez throwing an interception with eight minutes left in the game and then with a muffed punt with five minutes left in regulation. Panthers player Jaylen Lane returned the punt for a touchdown, sealing the game and victory 34-14.
“It felt really good getting our fifth straight win against Grambling because everybody knows how great that program is,” McDowell said. “They are a young team but anytime you can get a win, it is always good. The credit goes to the coaches and players for the work they put in. Every time you play, you got to get ready to play Tuesday through Thursday and play your best football. We have to put it together and play four quarters.”
Finishing the games for the rest of the season is what McDowell said he is looking for from his team.
“We got to get to our young guys and figure out how to close out the games,” he said. “We do one quarter at a time. First, second, and then going into halftime and then come back out and play just as good in the first and second quarter. There were some growing pains in the third and fourth quarter where I thought we should have kept the score to zero, but they scored, and we got the win. We are going to celebrate that and work on some things and get ready for Texas Southern next.”
McDowell said it is always exciting to play at the Cotton Bowl, especially now that he is head coach. McDowell was promoted to head coach in January 2022 after serving as the team’s assistant head coach and cornerbacks’ coach.
“We are two teams that can win any given Saturday,” McDowell said. “Am I happy with the win, yes, but am I happy with the performance in the third and fourth quarters, not at all because we are much better than that.”
Offensively, Prairie View was led by quarterback Trazon Connley who was 9 of 16 in passing yards for a total of 56 yards.
Connley agreed with McDowell that the Panthers still have a lot of work to do despite a strong first half.
“We played well enough to win, but it was not a dominating performance by our team,” Connley said. “We didn’t do our jobs the whole 60 minutes of the game. We came out the first 35 minutes firing off and then the second half we came out complacent. But our defense is what keeps us afloat. Our defense keeps forcing turnovers and stops and we just have to credit this win to our defense. We still have work to do, and the job is not finished.”
Prairie View plays Texas Southern next weekend while Grambling faces Alabama A&M University.
The beautiful weather at the game also allowed the crowd to enjoy the elaborate and talented bands from both universities as they dazzled with their dance team, drumline and flags. Though Prairie View won the game, both teams’ bands won the hearts of many as they are both considered part of one of the top band performances in college football.
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