Jimmy Oliver threw three touchdown passes and repeatedly scrambled out of trouble to lead Jackson State to a 42-31 comeback victory over Grambling State Saturday in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game.Oliver’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Jones as he was being tackled gave Jackson State (8-4) the lead for good early in the fourth quarter.
It was the fourth lead change in the game at Legion Field. The victory gave Jackson State its 16th SWAC football championship, but its first since 1996. Jackson State pushed the lead to 42-31 when Lavarus Giles broke away from three defenders near the line of scrimmage and raced 54 yards for a touchdown with 11:45 remaining. Most of the rest of the game was played in a heavy rain, making it harder for Grambling’s offense to come back. Oliver completed 16-of-30 passes for 249 yards, while Giles rushed 23 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Trailing 28-12 at halftime, Grambling (8-4) scored 19 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 31-28 lead heading into the fourth.
Brandon Landers threw for two touchdown passes and a pair of two-point conversions in the quarter. For the game, Landers completed 18-of-38 passes for 229 yards. But he also threw three interceptions, one of which was returned 35 yards for a touchdown by Domonique Johnson.
Grambling, which had been 4-0 in SWAC title games, took a 7-0 lead on its first possession on a 1-yard touchdown run by Frank Warren. But Grambling failed to make it back to the end zone the rest of the first half, while Jackson State scored four touchdowns to build a 28-12 halftime lead.
It was the third consecutive loss for Grambling, which had defeated Jackson State 30-20 during the regular season.