Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kick caps a Classic afternoon


FG sends Grambling to win over Bethune-Cookman on busy day

By Shannon Russell
Enquirer staff writer

Grambling State senior kicker Brian Morgan said it was no big deal. It was his job, after all, the very thing he was brought to college to do.

But what a way to win.

Morgan's 36-yard field goal with 9 seconds remaining gave the Tigers their first lead and, seconds later, a 24-23 victory over Bethune-Cookman in the Procter & Gamble Ohio Classic at Paul Brown Stadium, Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 35,608.

[img]
Fans dance during the halftime show at The Procter & Gamble Ohio Classic football game at Paul Brown Stadium.
(Enquirer photo/JEFF SWINGER)
Grambling teammates hugged and high-fived Morgan as head coach Melvin Spears accepted the Ohio Classic trophy.

"I feel great," a beaming, water-drenched Spears said. "It was great to get a win under our belts, and now we've just got to keep working."

The Classic, which featured two storied division I-AA programs from among the 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, wasn't just a football game. As part of the weekend Queen City Fusion festivities, fans flocked to the stadium at 9 a.m. for a Fifth Third Bank Jamboree Festival filled with vendors and exhibitors.

The sunny, 75-degree weather had fans in their seats long before La Toya London from American Idol 3 sang the national anthem, and long after an extended halftime featuring a marching band extravaganza and a performance by J-Kwon.

Entertainers Twista and Ludacris captivated the crowd after the nearly 4-hour game.

There was also one last spirited Battle of the Bands after the game.

Grambling State's band, however, didn't limit its playing to timeouts and halftime.

With 4:55 remaining, Tigers quarterback Brandon Landers hit wide receiver Clyde Edwards with a 46-yard touchdown pass, and Morgan iced the PAT to cut Bethune-Cookman's lead to 23-21.

BIG WEEKEND

Today's events

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fifth and Vine streets, downtown.

Ohio Classic Black College Fair, noon-4 p.m., Westin Hotel, 21 E. Fifth St., downtown. More than 20 historically black colleges and universities represented. Free. (800) 611-0368.

Reds baseball, 1:15 p.m., Great American Ball Park, vs. Chicago Cubs $8-200. (513) 381-7337.

Area Wide Worship Service, 2-5 p.m., Northern Kentucky Convention Center, 1 W. RiverCenter Blvd., Covington. Music, worship and guest speaker Joe Beam. Free. (859) 431-1613.

Bengals football, 8:30 p.m., Paul Brown Stadium, vs. Miami Dolphins. Sold out. (513) 621-8383.

Getting around
Downtown map (PDF)
Driving directions
Current traffic conditions
Latest weather reports

Parking:
Park for $1 for the first two hours in one of four downtown garages: Fountain Square North, Gramercy, The Westin, and Fifth and Race. (Just look for the $1 Park signs.)

Park and ride

Metro's Oktoberfest Express is operating from the following park-and-ride locations:

• Western Hills Plaza and Forest Park (1160 Kemper Meadow Drive), which will stop at Seventh and Race, downtown

• Raymond Walters College (9555 Plainfield Road) and Union Township Civic Center (4350 Aicholtz Road), which will stop at Fifth and Broadway, downtown.

Fare is $3 round trip, or $2 one way. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. today.

Information: www.sorta.com.

More Big Weekend coverage

Grambling pinned the Wildcats to the 20-yard line on third-and-14. But Grambling's defensive momentum vanished with a shrill whistle, as its band was charged with unsportsmanlike conduct for tooting a tune while Bethune-Cookman tried to make a play.

Grambling thwarted the drive, but didn't seize its final possession until 1:22 remained.

"Coach told me that the whole drive was going to be on me. The main thing was to get out of bounds, stop the clock and put us in position to win the game," Landers said. "I knew if I put our kicker in position, he would come through for us."

The Grambling offense sputtered with only 40 yards rushing and 14 yards passing in the first half. Freshman Landers engineered a potent aerial campaign after the half, finishing 15-for-31 passing for 231 yards, one interception and two touchdowns.

Bethune-Cookman, too, went through the air in the second half after freshman Jimmie Russell was held to four completions for 54 yards. An injury to projected starting quarterback Lawrence McCloud has forced coach Alvin Wyatt to experiment with personnel, and he went to senior Jarod Rucker to finish the game.

Rucker was 9-of-12 passing for 151 yards and a touchdown.

"I thought we played a hellacious football game for the circumstances we were under," Wyatt said.

Somberness also cloaked the Wildcats during the game. Freshman football player Kovensky Pierre was killed Tuesday in a car accident, and his high school teammate, Willie Jackson, is in critical condition in Florida. A moment of silence for the players preceded kickoff.

Saturday was only the second game of the Wildcats' season, as hurricanes forced them to cancel their opener against Savannah State.

Still, Bethune-Cookman controlled its destiny, Rucker said, until Morgan's field-goal kick was mid-air.

"I was praying in my head, 'Lord, please let it go wide right. Please let it go wide right,' " Rucker said. "You never think you can lose a game like this."

---

E-mail srussell@enquirer.com

Bethune-Cookman13037-23
Grambling State001410-24
B-Weems 17 run (Cortez kick)

B-Russell 29 run (kick failed)

G-Carter 4 run (Morgan kick)

B-Cortez 41 field goal

G-Tolbert 29 pass from Landers

B-Weems 36 pass from Rucker (Cortez kick)

G-Edwards 46 pass from Landers (Morgan kick)

G-Morgan 36 field goal

Records: G 1-2, B 1-1.




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