The 48th annual Bayou Classic kicked off in New Orleans as Southern faced against their longtime heated rival Grambling State. This game was for pride as both teams had rough individual campaigns to this point. With Southern sitting at 3-4 in conference play and Grambling resting at 2-5, both teams would look to end their respective seasons with a bang. This game also marked the first traditional Bayou Classic since the start of the COVID pandemic. The alumni from both schools packed out the Caesars Superdome as both past and present students showed up to cheer on their respective teams. For Southern, this game represented the first Bayou Classic game as head coach for interim head coach Jason Rollins. This game also marked the first Bayou Classic as head coach for interim head coach Terrence Graves of Grambling State; as The Human Jukebox and The Tiger Marching band illuminated the Superdome, the Bayou Classic had truly formed.
Southern was the first team on the board with a field goal from Freshman kicker Luke Jackson. Grambling quickly answered on their next drive with a rushing touchdown, making the game 7-3 with the Tigers. Southern, not to be outdone, responded with a rushing touchdown from Redshirt Senior back Devon Benn. The score then became 10-7, with the Jags seizing the lead. The second quarter then became a game of inches as both team’s offenses seemed to stall. Both teams traded field goals leading into halftime. Grambling went into the half leading against Southern 16-13.
The second half was a similar story to the first half in the fact that in the third quarter only three points were scored. Southern then went into the fourth quarter trailing 19-13 with 15 minutes to work a miracle. The fourth quarter became one of the more action packed quarters of the entire season for the Jag’s. The Jags struck first with a five yard passing touchdown from Senior Quarterback Ladarius Skelton to Sophmore Tight End Ethan Howard. This gave the Jag’s their second lead of the game with the game in its latter stages. The Tigers then replied with a touchdown of their own making the game 26-20. Southern continued to fight as Skelton rushed for a one yard touchdown to knot up the game at 26 a piece. Southern then missed the point after and left the game at 26 all with just under four minutes to play. All of this explosive play from both teams ended with a game sealing field goal from Grambling to take the Bayou Classic trophy and prevent Southern from extending their win streak.
Following the game Coach Rollins expressed his disappointment in the loss. “I’m very disappointed for our team, coaches, and fans.” There were also miscues from the defense in the loss as well some of which Graduate Linebacker Ray Anderson alluded to. “We have to do a better job of executing and getting off the field on third downs.” Rollin’s also gave credit to their longtime rivals in the game. “Credit to (Grambling). They played hard as well.”
This loss was the third straight loss on the season for Southern and leaves them with more questions than answers heading into the offseason. The most concerning question remains who will be the coach of the Jags following a tumultuous season under interim coach Rollins? Southern during the season could never seem to find their footing consistently from game to game. This season there were no back to back wins for the Jags although coming into the season following their spring campaign where they showed great promise. Only time will tell if Southern can figure out their issues before next season.