NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As much as Grambling could have used a morale-boosting triumph in the Bayou Classic, Dray Joseph and the Southern Jaguars were not going to let that happen.
Joseph and Lee Dross connected for three touchdowns and Southern defeated Grambling 40-17 in the Bayou Classic on Saturday.
The result left the Tigers (1-11, 0-8 Southwestern Athletic Conference) with the program's worst-ever overall record to close a season which will be remembered more for a mid-season player walkout than anything on the field.
Southern (8-4, 7-2) had already won the SWAC's Western Division and will head to the league championship game against Jackson State in Houston on Dec. 7.
But the Jaguars had no interest in letting up on their struggling rivals, racing to a 27-3 halftime lead on a short scoring run by Lenard Tillery and TD catches of 17 and 30 yards by Lee Doss.
Grambling pulled to 27-17 on Johnathan Williams' touchdown passes of 11 yards to Robert Bailey and 8 yards to Anthony McGhee, but in the fourth quarter, Southern's defense thwarted the comeback attempt by forcing turnovers. Williams was intercepted by defensive back Virgil Williams. Later, Williams lost a fumble on a sack by linebacker Daniel Brown.
Williams, who moved into a starting role after an injury to season-opening starter D.J. Williams, finished 14 of 21 for 123 yards.
Doss finished with six catches for 117 yards and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Tillery gained 104 yards on 19 carries.
Grambling's season took a historic turn when players walked out on several days of practice and Jackson State's Oct. 19 homecoming game in protest of the conditions under which they trained and traveled, citing in particular their long bus trips to Indianapolis and Kansas City.
The players also complained of decrepit practice and training facilities, including torn-up tiles in the weight room floor, which was replaced after their protest. There were also claims, which the administration disputed, of moldy and otherwise improperly cleaned football pads which raised risks of staph infections.