As a youngster, D.J. Williams was a ball boy for the Grambling football team.
His dad, of course, was the coach. He remembered people asking for his autograph — at age 10 — just because he was Doug Williams’ son.
As a youngster, D.J. Williams always dreamed of one day playing in the Bayou Classic himself.
Saturday afternoon at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, his dream came true. In fact, the real thing might’ve been better than anything D.J. Williams had imagined.
Quarterbacking the Tigers as a freshman, he completed 11 of 17 passes for 174 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and Grambling pulled away in the second half for an easy 36-12 victory over Southern.
“It was a really good win,” he said. “It lived up to everything I thought it would be as a kid. And to win it in the fashion we did, going into the (Southwestern Athletic Conference) Championship Game, just makes it so much more sweeter.”
With the win, Grambling clinched the Western Division title and avoided what would’ve been a messy four-way tie for first place — a deadlock that would’ve left the Tigers out of next month’s title game (UAPB would’ve claimed the West via tiebreakers).
Grambling will face Alabama A&M in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 10.
A&M defeated the Tigers 20-14 on Sept. 24 at Robinson Stadium.
‘Give credit where it’s due’
SU safety Demetric Rogers, who played his final game in a Southern uniform, used one word to describe how felt after Saturday’s loss.
“Hurt,” said Rogers, who finished this season as the team’s second-leading tackler with 76 stops.
Rogers, a senior from Northeast High, said he never envisioned Southern losing. He sure didn’t envision losing by a lot.
“Nothing that they did was new to us. We’d seen everything and practiced everything to perfection,” Rogers said. “Their quarterback was young. He made some exceptional throws. The receivers went and got the ball like they were supposed to. All you can do is give credit where it’s due.”
The Tigers piled up 446 yards of offense, surpassing their previous season-high of 419 against Alabama A&M on Sept. 24.
Big days for Louis, Roberts
Grambling receiver Mario Louis caught four passes for 76 yards Saturday, pushing him past the 1,000-yard barrier for the season. Heading into the SWAC title game, Louis has 1,043 yards. His 17 touchdowns are two short of the school’s single-season record of 19, set by Henry Tolbert in 2005.
Grambling tailback Dawrence Roberts had a big day as well, with 36 carries 195 yards, pushing him past the 1,000-yard rushing mark. Roberts, a sophomore, has 1,038 rushing yards and eight TDs.
Roberts gave the Tigers their second 1,000-yard rusher in as many seasons. Last fall, then-senior Frank Warren led the SWAC with 1,537 yards.
This season, the only other 1,000-yard rusher in the SWAC is Alabama A&M’s Kaderius Lacey, who leads the conference with 1,057 yards.
Numbers to know
4. Four opponents gained more than 200 rushing yards against Southern this season — including Grambling, which finished with 272. The Jaguars ranked last in the SWAC in rushing defense, allowing an average of 185.5 yards per game.
2. Two SU quarterbacks, Dray Joseph and J.P. Douglas, threw for more than 1,000 yards this season. Joseph had 1,544 passing yards, and Douglas finished with 1,282 passing yards. Southern was second in the SWAC in passing offense (256.9 yards per game), behind Jackson State (348.1 yards per game).
Minus-31. SU had minus-31 rushing yards Saturday, a season low. The Jaguars’ previous low was 12 yards, set against Texas Southern on Nov. 5. SU finished with 693 rushing yards this season, easily ranking last in the SWAC. No other team had fewer than 1,000 yards.
“They won the battle in the trenches. Their defensive line took it to our offensive linemen. Their receivers made plays on the ball. Defensively, we got turnovers — but once we started moving the ball, if it wasn’t in the red zone, those (Grambling) guys said, ‘We gave them the ball, but we’re not going to give up points.’ ”
SU coach Stump Mitchell