Joseph threw for five touchdowns as Southern University overcame an early deficit and held on late to defeat Grambling State 38-33 on Saturday in the Bayou Classic. The Jaguars got over the hump, snapping a four-game losing streak in the classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“There was a burden on me,” said Joseph, who completed 22 of 37 passes for 287 yards. “And I thought to myself, ‘Am I ready for this?’”
Joseph added: “And then, we got behind, I knew that big time players have to make big time plays.”
The game marked the end of disappointing seasons for both teams.
Southern (4-7, 3-6 Southwestern Athletic Conference) fired coach Stump Mitchell two games into the season. Southern athletic director William Broussard said Saturday that interim coach Dawson Odums was under consideration to be retained, but that he is intending to start his search this week.
Grambling (1-10, 0-9), the defending league champion, ended the season with one victory for the first time since 1941 — the school’s inaugural year under legendary coach Eddie Robinson.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Grambling coach Doug Williams, who last year returned to his alma mater where he had previously won four league titles in an eight-year stint. “We’ve got to bring back the caliber of players it takes to be successful.”
Grambling got off to a good start Saturday, turning two fumble recoveries into touchdown passes by D.J. Williams that covered 31 and 16 yards.
But Joseph brought his team back, starting with a 13-yard scoring pass to Jerry Joseph late in the first quarter.
Back-to-back touchdown passes to Charles Hawkins on the next two possessions put Southern ahead for good.
Joseph finished 22 of 37 for 284 yards.
Still, Grambling had a chance to pull out the victory.
Down 38-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers scored two touchdowns to cut their deficit to five points and had another chance when they got the ball back at their 16 with 1:23 left.
Backup quarterback Frank Rivers got Grambling to the Southern 42. But with 24 seconds left he was sacked by Donald Phillips and fumbled with Franchot West recovering for Southern.
“They fought hard,” Williams said. “At the half we talked about ending the last 30 minutes of the season on a good note.
“It was a tough chance there at the end, but we still had a chance.”