Southern freshman Jarod Sims has been a short-yardage specialist all season — but under the bright lights of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and a big television audience, Sims showed his long game.
Sims rushed for a team-high 89 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning points, as the Jaguars won their second consecutive Bayou Classic on Saturday, defeating Grambling 30-28.
A 6-foot, 190-pounder from Opelousas, Sims was the closest thing to a power runner on the Jaguars roster and was used near the goal line and on third and fourth-down plays.
But he showed some speed, too, breaking into the clear for a 36-yard scoring run with 14:11 left in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a great back, a great athlete,” quarterback Ladarius Skelton said. “He’s going to be big one day.”
Sims was big for at least one day. His other touchdown was even more timely. With Southern trying to beat the clock right before halftime, he plunged over the goal line from a yard out on an untimed down. Southern appeared to have been stopped in the previous play, but Grambling was flagged for being offsides on a quarterback sneak by Skelton.
That first touchdown allowed Southern to take momentum into the halftime break as it rallied from a 21-3 deficit.
Sims came out and rushed for 59 of his yards after halftime, and Southern had 140 of its 208 for the game in the final two quarters.
Bloodied but unbowed
For the second consecutive game, Southern’s run defense was pounded for a high yardage total. Grambling put 209 yards on the Jaguars, who entered the game leading the SWAC with only 121.4 yards per game allowed.
In their previous game, Jackson State rushed for 308 yards, a season high allowed by Southern.
“We made some mistakes, but at the end of the day we came out with a win,” linebacker Calvin Lunkins said. “We just had to lock in on our assignments. After halftime, we executed at a high level.
When Grambling went up 21-3 in the second quarter, it appeared the Tigers might be headed to one of the most lopsided wins in the history of the Bayou Classic.
Instead, Southern’s two-point win was the closest since the Jaguars won 31-30 in 1991.
There was one other one-point game in the series, a 22-21 Southern win in 1963. The Bayou Classic had two games end with a two-point margin before Saturday, both wins by Grambling.
The Tigers won 34-32 in 1968 and 31-29 in 1984.
Grambling did not play defensive end Anfernee Mullins, who was arrested on a domestic abuse charge last week, his third arrest since 2016. Mullins, a transfer from Mississippi State, was the team leader in sacks (seven) and tackles for loss (11½). There was no official word on his status.
The Tigers also played without second leading rusher Kevin Donminique, who had rushed for 445 yards coming in.
Southern evened the score with Grambling in Bayou Classic games at 23-23 and now leads the overall series 38-33. ... Odums is 5-3 vs. Grambling, 58-33 overall and 50-18 against the SWAC. ... Fobbs drops to 51-21 overall, 40-8 in SWAC play and is 3-3 vs. Southern.
Southern game captains were safety Montavius Gaines, defensive back Benjamin Harris, offensive tackle Jodeci Harris and guard Jeremiah Abby. Grambling won the toss and elected to defer the option to the second half. Southern received the opening kickoff.