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CSN SWAC Attack: Stormy Weather

By Brandon Williams, CSN SWAC Attack Columnist

Saturday’s matchup between Prairie View A&M and Sam Houston State was expected to be a clash between the irresistible force of the Panthers’ “Purple Haze” defense and the immovable object that is the Bearkats’ offense. Instead, both schools have been stopped in their tracks by a bigger, more menacing opponent: Hurricane Ike.

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The storm, which took a more northerly track late Wednesday night, forced the postponement of the anticipated clash, as both schools decided early Thursday morning that the potential Category 4 hurricane required the closing of the Sam Houston State campus.

As of Thursday afternoon, both schools were talking with the Southland Conference about the possibility of playing the game Sunday afternoon, either in Huntsville or a nearby location.

The incoming hurricane will not affect the SWAC’s other Houston-area team. Texas Southern departed for Sacramento, Calif., earlier Thursday and will play against Shaw College Saturday night in the Capital City Classic.

One night in Jonesboro

Texas Southern knew it would have a chore in contending with an Arkansas State team that was coming off an emotional triumph over Texas A&M. Little did the Tigers know just how daunting the task would be.

The Red Wolves scored on each of their eight first-half possessions, bolting to a 52-3 halftime lead before “settling” down to an 83-10 victory over TSU, which set a school record for most points allowed. The mark bettered the 79 Southern laid on the Tigers in the 1952 season opener against Alexander Durley’s squad, which rebounded from that debacle to finish 4-3-1.

“Nobody put us in that situation but us,” said Tigers coach Johnnie Cole, whose team has been outscored by a combined 117-24 in the first two games of his tenure. “There’s a long season ahead. We just need to go back there, do our jobs and enjoy playing the game.”

Some of the stats that Cole didn’t enjoy:
* Being outgained 670-223.
* QB Bobby Reid’s 3-for-12, 52-yard performance.
* Nine penalties.
* The school’s 15th straight loss.

Game of the Week

Jackson State (1-1) at Tennessee State (2-0)

Tennessee State has won the last five between the two schools and has opened the season with victories over SWAC foes Alabama A&M and Southern. Needless to say, there is a bit of conference pride on the line for Jackson State, which is coming off a 17-7 triumph over Stillman.

JSU still is trying to get QB Trae Rutland comfortable in the offense, but a defense that recorded five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions in last week’s triumph will carry the load. While Tennessee State has held an edge in the series, don’t expect this one to be a high-scoring affair.

Watch out for: Tennessee State QB Antonio Heffner. The Tigers are Ohio Valley Conference contenders with him under center, as he has averaged 303 yards per game passing. This will be a solid matchup between Heffner and JSU cornerback Domonique Johnson, who has established himself as one of the SWAC’s top defenders. He has drawn attention from NFL scouts with his size (6-1, 185) and speed (4.4).

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News and Notes

* Prairie View has scored 30 or more points in its last four games, dating to the end of the 2007 season. Saturday’s 53-0 victory over Texas College was the Panthers’ biggest margin of victory since a 60-14 victory over Southern in 1964.

* Opponents are a perfect 11-for-11 against TSU in the red zone.

* Grambling WR Kenneth Batiste is making an early bid for SWAC offensive newcomer of the year. The Tigers’ freshman has caught 11 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in his first two games, giving GSU a needed downfield threat after the departure of wideouts Clyde Edwards and Reginald Jackson.

* Two freshman defensive backs are atop the SWAC’s interception charts, as Grambling’s Bruna’ Foster and TSU’s De’Markus Washington share the lead with two picks each.

* Several conference players are ranked among the top available senior prospects in Pro Football Weekly’s 2008-09 Pro Prospects preview, which hit newsstands last week. Jackson State’s Johnson (7th among cornerbacks), TSU’s Bobby Reid (24th among quarterbacks) and Alcorn State OLB Lee Robinson (17th) were ranked the highest.

* Arkansas-Pine Bluff looks to snap a nine-game losing streak to in-state rival Central Arkansas. The game will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2003.