The best news for Prairie View A&M; is that the ambulance chasers will now go home.
Darkness fell, the deed was done, the Panthers played to form, and the record is in the book.
In one of the most predictable outcomes in recent times, Grambling State defeated Prairie View, 64-0, before a crowd of 63,425 Saturday night at the Cotton Bowl.
It marked the 51st consecutive defeat for the Panthers, breaking the previous collegiate record of 50 held by Macalester College of Minnesota.
“It’s nothing to be proud of,” receiver Greg Bell said. “I can’t stick my chest out and say I played for Prairie View. When people ask, I say ‘I played college football.’ ”
Well, sort of.
The victory nudged Grambling Coach Eddie Robinson to within one of career victory No. 400, while the loss pushed Prairie View closer to the ledge.
And how about this: With a 56-0 lead, Grambling rushed players up to the line of scrimmage as time was running out and scored on a three-yard run on the game’s last play.
Then, the Tigers faked the extra point and scored a two-point conversion.
“I guess Eddie felt it was necessary for his program,” Prairie View Coach Hensley Sapenter said sarcastically. “I don’t know, one day we might find it’s necessary for ours.”
The 76-year-old Robinson apologized for his team’s conversion call which, he insisted, did not come from the bench. He did not deny trying to score on the last play in regulation.
“There were third and fourth stringers playing,” he said. “I don’t believe you can put them in and say, ‘Don’t score.’ ”
The game was close for, oh, about five minutes. Prairie View took the opening kickoff and drove to the Grambling 35 and then had to punt.
DeCedric Giron’s boot went straight up and netted one yard.
Five plays later, Grambling was home, with Jason Bratton scoring on a two-yard run.
Soon, it was 14-0, on Jay Johnson’s 13-yard scoring reception, 21-0 on Jeff Nichols’ 26-yard run, 28-0 on a 21-yard pass from Kendrick Nord to Solomon Thompson, and 35-0 on Johnson’s two-yard run.
Then they played the second half.
Grambling kept whacking the flippers and ringing up the score: 42 (ding), 49 (ding), 56 (ding), 64.
You only need to know that Grambling finished with 591 total yards and averaged 9.2 yards per play--and that Prairie View did not.
The Panthers (0-5 this season, 0-51 since 1989) blew its only scoring chance, botching all four downs in the second quarter after having first and goal at the Grambling 10.
Grambling, for the record, has now outscored Prairie View, 319-10, in their last five meetings.
For Robinson, the march to immortality continues as he ventures where no other coach has gone before.
Fifty-four years after arriving at Grambling (then called the Colored Industrial and Agricultural Institute of Lincoln Parish), 11 years after passing Paul (Bear) Bryant on the victory list at 324, Robinson stands at the peak of Mt. Everest, one victory shy of 400.
“We have to get 400 out of the way so I can coach,” said Robinson, whose team improved to 2-2.
After his 200th victory, they baked Robinson a cake.
After his 300th, Tiger fans stormed the field.
The road to 400 has been no cake walk. Grambling entered Saturday’s game having lost five of its last six games, some in excruciating fashion, dating back to last season.
Last week, Central State (Ohio) scored on the last play to defeat Grambling, 16-14, spoiling what should have set up Robinson’s 400th victory party at the Cotton Bowl in front of an unusually huge Division 1-AA crowd as the second-half of a Texas State Fair football double-header.
As it stands, Robinson’s record is 399-145-15.
No. 400 will come, sure as the sun rises and Prairie View loses.
It will come, perhaps, next week at home against Mississippi Valley State.
For the Panthers, the streak is now theirs, to have and to hold.
“What do you want me to say?” Sapenter said as he walked off the field. “I don’t care if its our first loss. I don’t like to lose at all. The same way I feel about losing the first game in my life, I feel about losing my 51st.”