As a quarterback at Grambling State, Doug Williams never lost at the Bayou Classic. As the Grambling coach, Williams can't make that claim.
"I wanted to leave here a winner," Williams said after Grambling lost the silver anniversary game 26-14 to Southern University. "We're not at that point, but once we mature, we'll do it."
Williams, the Bayou Classic MVP for three of the four years he played in the game, on Saturday watched the Southern quarterback rally his team for the victory. Sam George threw three touchdown passes in the second half to give Southern its sixth consecutive title.
It was Williams' first Classic as Grambling coach. Eddie Robinson, who ended his 57-year career as Grambling's only football coach after last year's Classic, watched from one of the luxury suites in the Superdome.
Grambling, which won or shared 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships under Robinson, finished 5-6 in its first season under Williams.
"Doug has done a great job, coming into a situation where he didn't know the chemistry of the team and had to get rid of some players," Southern coach Pete Richardson said. "The main thing is, he's turned the corner. He's going to be a good coach."
The victory gave Southern (8-3) the outright Southwestern Athletic Conference championship. It's Southern's third SWAC title in six years and second in a row.
After Southern took a 3-0 lead on Justin Mattingl's 37-yard field goal in the first quarter, Grambling scored two touchdowns in the second period to take a 14-3 halftime lead.
Lionel Hayes threw a 44-yard TD pass to Scotty Anderson early in the quarter to put Gramling up 7-3. It was just the second time Grambling led Southern in the last five years.
Hayes and Anderson hooked up again on a 65-yarder as time ran out in the half.
But George threw two TD passes to John George -- a 37-yarder and a 24-yarder -- in the third quarter to give Southern a 17-14 lead.
Grambling had a chance to tie it with 8:31 left in the game, but Lawrence Richmond missed a 37-yard field goal.
Mattingly added a 42-yard field goal with 5:30 left, and Sam George iced it with a 43-yard touchdown pass to John Forman with 2:48 left.
Williams, who still holds eight Grambling records and won the first four Classics as Grambling's quarterback, played in the NFL for the Tampa Buccaneers and the Washington Redskins, where he was the Super Bowl MVP in 1987.
"Some air went out at the end," Williams said. "But I'm still going to hold my head up. These kids worked hard all game and all year. We never gave up."
Robinson dreamed up the bowl-like staging of the annual matchup that has grown from just a football game to a week-long event that fills the city and pumps millions into the economy. He wanted fans of the traditionally black schools to be able to enjoy the major-bowl atmosphere he saw at the Sugar Bowl.
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