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Grambling looks to continue SWAC dominance in league opener

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(STATS) - Coach Rick Comegy won't try to fool anybody.

He knows quite well the challenge his Mississippi Valley State team faces Saturday night against Grambling State - the undisputed kings of the Southwestern Athletic Conference the past two seasons. He also has a pretty good idea of what it will take to knock off the Tigers in this league opener at home.

"We'll see, maybe we play a game out of this world," Comegy said.

It just might take that.

Grambling (2-1), which has gone 18-0 in the conference over the past two seasons, is the only league team currently with a winning record and checks in at No. 22 in this week's STATS FCS Top 25.

"We're playing an outstanding opponent, tough to prepare for," said Comegy, whose Delta Devils have dropped 17 of 19 meetings with Grambling and been outscored 108-24 in the last two.

"(Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs) really knows how to play this game. We've just got to strap up and play."

The Tigers' most recent conference loss came to Southern on Nov. 29, 2014. That was preceded by a defeat to Alabama State. Prior to those back-to-back setbacks, Grambling had won seven straight league contests.

It opened this season with a 43-14 loss to FBS opponent Tulane, then knocked off Northwestern State and needed a 14-point fourth quarter to pull away from Jackson State for a 36-21 victory. The win over the Tigers was considered nonconference because of the current seven-game league schedule format.

"That's what Coach Fobbs does, they find a way to win," Comegy said. "He's got great athletes. I don't know where he doesn't have a great athlete."

One of those athletes is senior quarterback Devante Kincade, who began his career at Mississippi, then last season threw for 3,022 yards with 31 touchdowns for the Tigers and has thrown for 634 this year. His 51-yard TD pass to Lyndemian Brooks early in the fourth quarter against Jackson State broke open a one-point contest.

Teammate Martez Carter leads the league with 302 rushing yards and is tied for the top spot with a 7.0 average per carry.

BATTLE TESTED

Reigning SWAC East Division champion Alcorn State begins league play 1-2, but faced some stiff competition in its previous two games that should have coach Fred McNair's group well prepared for the grind of the conference, starting Saturday against Southern.

The Braves were tied with Florida International in the fourth quarter before the FBS school scored the go-ahead TD on a 1-yard run with 1:12 remaining to win 17-10 on Sept. 8. Last week, Alcorn was tied with perennial FCS standout McNeese before the Cowboys scored on a TD pass with 33 seconds left in the game for a 34-27 win.

"That's the disappointing thing," McNair said. "To know you're in those games and you have a chance to win those ballgames.

"Overall, the way our team has competed the last two weeks, I can't say no more than what a great job they've done. They've just got to continue to push."

Alcorn State's five-game winning streak against Southern ended with last season's 41-33 home defeat.

ON A MISSION

Jackson State and MVSU are two of six SWAC teams still looking for their first victories of 2017. Alcorn State is the only team in the East with a win.

At least two more teams will enter the victory column with winless squads Texas Southern facing Alabama A&M and Prairie View A&M taking on Alabama State.

Updated September 22, 2017

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