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Southern University Jaguars quarterback Austin Howard (7) passes the ball downfield during the football game between Grambling State Tigers and Southern University Jaguars at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 26, 2016 in New Orleans, LA.

Southern’s tight ends had been one of quarterback Austin Howard’s favorite targets all season.

Whenever Howard needed a quick outlet under pressure, Dillon Beard or Austin Opara or even freshman Jeremias Houston were always a safe option to dump the ball off.

Not Saturday.

Grambling clamped down on Howard’s safety nets all night in the Bayou Classic, limiting his targeting of tight ends to just five of his 44 attempts.

All of the targets went to Beard, who reeled in three receptions for 36 yards, all of which came in the second half.

Quinn falls short

One of Southern’s most prolific careers ended without a 1,000-yard season.

Senior receiver Willie Quinn fell 45 yards short of one of the few milestones to elude him the past four years after gaining 60 yards on six receptions Saturday.

Quinn finished his career as Southern’s all-time leader in yards and receptions, on top of being the SWAC’s all-time return touchdown leader.

Quinn’s second-half production was slowed after going back and forth between the Southern locker room. It was unclear what the reason was. He was not on the field at the end of the game.

“I was here when it was Dray Joseph, Lee Doss,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “Somebody else will rise up. We don’t replace players; we create windows of opportunity for new players. A new window of opportunity is going to come open for someone else. You don’t replace Willie Quinn; you don’t replace Lenard Tillery. But by them leaving, it opens up a window of opportunity for somebody else to shine in the light.”

End of an era

There aren’t many, if any, rushing records Tillery left unshattered throughout his collegiate career with Southern.

Tillery earned the title of the SWAC’s all-time leading rusher against Alcorn State earlier in the year and extended his hold on the record to 4,741 yards by the end of Saturday night.

His 1,569 yards this season were also enough for Southern’s single-season record.

Tillery could have broken his single-game career best Saturday but fell just 11 yards shy of the 245-yard mark he set against Prairie View two weeks ago.

“(Tillery and Quinn have) been good stewards,” Odums said. “They represented Southern well; they represented our program well. They’ve had great careers; unfortunately it comes to an end tonight.”

Lagniappe

Gov. John Bel Edwards performed the opening coin toss, which Grambling won and opted to defer to the second half. … The honorary game ball was awarded to former Super Bowl MVP and ex-Grambling coach Doug Williams. A Zachary native, Williams was 2-7 as a coach in the Bayou Classic. … Saturday’s attendance was 67,845. It was the largest crowd for a Bayou Classic since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.


Follow Mike Gegenheimer on Twitter, @Mike_Gegs.