Grambling pours it on, 87-12


And to think this used to be a storied rivalry.

By the time Morgan State and Grambling State ended their 16-year football association in 1983, the series had long developed into little more than an annual Grambling rout.

Last night, the teams resumed play after an 11-year hiatus, and it was obvious in the opening minutes that the gap between the two programs has grown to Grand Canyon-like proportions.

Grambling, led by legendary coach Eddie Robinson and an overwhelming supply of weapons, abused the Bears early and often en route to an 87-12 rout before 23,289 at Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers (2-0), ranked 24th among Division I-AA teams, gave Robinson his all-time-leading 390th career victory and improved his record against Morgan State to 15-2 by trashing the Bears (0-2) from every vantage point. When the torture was over, Grambling had produced its second-highest point total in Robinson's 53 seasons at the Louisiana school.

"The fans expect a lot. The media expects a lot. We just don't want to win the game. We want to look good," Robinson said.

How bad was it for the Bears? They held the ball for nearly 11 minutes in the first quarter, and all they did was to prove how pointless the time-of-possession statistic can be.

Grambling, meanwhile, showed how to carve up an opponent with stunning economy. The Tigers forced four first-quarter turnovers, turning each into a touchdown. Its offense, led by quarterback Kendrick Nord and wide receiver Curtis Ceaser, toyed with Morgan State, scoring at will on big plays.

And when the first quarter ended, the Tigers had amassed a 38-6 lead, despite holding the ball for barely four minutes.

How bad was it for Morgan State? By halftime, when Grambling had piled up a 60-6 advantage, three Tigers had produced more yardage than the entire Morgan State offense.

How bad was it for Morgan State? With two seconds left in the first half and the Bears buried in a 53-6 hole, Robinson called a timeout. That allowed Larry Dykes to score on a 27-yard run on the final play of the half.

And still, it got worse for the Bears. Grambling added three more touchdowns in the third quarter to increase its lead to 80-6. When the game mercifully ended, the Tigers had recorded 650 yards, gained 32 first downs and forced six turnovers, while holding Morgan State to 122 yards.

"We've got a young football team," said Morgan coach Ricky Diggs. "We turned the ball over early, and we didn't stop them when we had to. I don't have any answers right now. We've got to pick up the pieces and get ourselves established.

"If I had to get beat that bad, I'm just glad it was by him [Robinson]."

"We killed ourselves for the second week in a row," said Morgan State quarterback Michael Moore, referring to the Bears' season-opening 41-0 loss to Bethune-Cookman. "They [Grambling] are good, but they're not as good as we made them look. We made them look like All-Americans."

Although his numbers certainly don't show it, Nord struggled briefly at the outset. Twice, he overthrew open receivers to miss scoring chances.

Nord recovered nicely. By halftime, he had completed a modest eight of 15 passes for five -- yes, five -- touchdowns and 215 yards. Three of those scores went to Ceaser, who scored on each of his first-half receptions, good for 122 yards.

"We like to come in and give people a show," Ceaser said. "That's our intention when we play anybody. We were talking about trying to score a hundred. I thought after I had scored a couple times, that they [Morgan State] would try some double coverage. But they just stayed in that [man-to-man] defense with the safeties playing up and we kept scoring."

By halftime, the Tigers had out-gained Morgan State 405-50.

It only took a minute for the Bears to begin caving in. On their first possession, Moore got hit on the arm by a Grambling lineman as he released a pass, which settled into the hands of free safety Shelly Barnett. He easily returned the pickoff 36 yards to give Grambling a 6-0 lead.

Grambling then did something rare. Midway through the first period, the Tigers punted.

But Morgan State fumbled the ball away three plays later, as linebacker Kiefer Phillips recovered at the Morgan State 27. The Tigers drove 15 yards and, after Nord overthrew Ceaser in the end zone, settled for a 29-yard field goal by Gilad Landau for a 9-0 lead.

Seconds later, Phillips recovered a fumble by Morgan State running back Andre Thomas at the Bears' 32. Three plays later, Broderick Fobbs took a swing pass from Nord and raced 21 yards down the left sideline to make it 16-0 with 5:17 left in the quarter.

Grambling needed only 48 seconds of possession to score its next three touchdowns and turn the game into a rout. The Bears committed their fourth turnover of the period on their next possession, and Grambling once again capitalized -- and quickly. Nord hit a wide-open Ceaser for a 30-yard score to make it 22-0.

Morgan State finally found reason to celebrate on the ensuing kickoff, as Wesley Greene raced through a hole up the middle, broke a tackle at midfield and went 99 yards for a touchdown. That marked the Bears' first points of the season, as they closed the gap to 22-6.

The party was short-lived, however. On Grambling's next play from scrimmage, Nord found Ceaser again, as he burned cornerback Khary Tucker and gathered in a 76-yard touchdown pass.

The Bears then gave Grambling two free points, when a botched punt snap went sailing out of Morgan State's end zone to make it 31-6. Ceaser's 16-yard touchdown catch made it 38-6 with 1:24 left in the first quarter.

Grambling State 38 22 20 7 -- 87

Morgan State 6 0 0 6 -- 12

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