PRAIRIE VIEW - For the second straight week, the Prairie View A&M Panthers had their fans on the edge of their seats. Unlike last week, the Panthers came up with the big defensive play late in the game as they overcame a 12-point halftime deficit en route to a 28-26 win over Alabama A&M in their home opener at Blackshear Stadium on Saturday.
Things looked bleak for the Panthers after a half of play as Alabama A&M totaled nearly 295 yards on offense while the Panthers, who netted 700-plus offensive yards last weekend, only managed 96 yards at the half. Alabama A&M rode the legs of their running back tandem in Barrington Scott and Brandon Eldemire as the duo both scored in the first quarter en route to 211 rushing yards at the half.
Whatever Prairie View A&M head coach Heishma Northern said in the locker room at the half must’ve resonated with the Panthers as they came out clicking on all cylinders in the second half.
The Panthers opened the second half with a 10-play, 57-yard drive which was highlighted by two long runs from Courtney Brown. Quarterback De’Auntre Smiley scored PV’s first touchdown of the night with a one-yard rush for a 12-6 margin followed by Chris Barrick’s PAT for the 12-7 deficit.
The Panther defense forced a three-and-out on its next possession and wasted no time in taking the lead as Smiley broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run at the 8:24 mark. The PAT was good as the Panthers claimed a 14-12 lead midway through the third quarter.
Once again, the Panther defense forced a three-and-out and the offense continued to click as running back Johnta’ Hebert logged a 30-yard gain on a drive which was culminated by a 26-yard pitch-and-catch from Jerry Lovelocke to Brown. Barrick’s PAT sailed thru the uprights as the team claimed a 21-12 advantage with 2:54 remaining.
Alabama A&M found success with its passing game to open the fourth quarter as quarterback Jaymason Lee connected with Jonathan Dorsey for a 13-yard touchdown reception with 13 minutes left. However, the Panther offense quickly responded on the ensuing drive as Brown broke free for a 49-yard run which set up a critical 5-yard touchdown reception from Lovelocke to wideout Gabe Dunlap at the 9:57 mark. The PAT was good as the Panthers led by two possessions at 28-19.
Once again, fans had to find their oxygen masks as Alabama A&M found success via the run on its next drive. The Bulldogs had runs of 33 and 11 yards to move into scoring position and capitialized on the opportunity as Lee found Demario Ross for a 9-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was successful as Alabama A&M trailed 28-26 with 6:35 left in the contest.
The Panthers began to slow down offensively as they were forced to punt on their next drive. However, the defense picked up the slack as safety David Metcalf intercepted Lee at the PV 30 and raced 24 yards to the AAMU 46. The Panthers failed to pick up a first down on their next drive and gave AAMU life once again as they received the ball at the PV 11 with 56 seconds remaining.
The defense came up big on its final drive of the night as they forced Lee to throw two straight incomplete passes followed by defensive tackle Michael Daniel’s sack to the AAMU 6. On the final play, Desmond Gardiner iced the game as he picked off Lee for the game-clinching intreception with no time remaining.
The Panthers finished Saturday’s contest with 358 total yards offensively with 148 via the air and 210 coming on the ground. Brown led the Panthers with 116 rushing yards while also catching four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, senior defensive end Liki Porotesano led the Panthers with nine tackles and a half-tackle for loss.
The Panthers close out the month of September next weekend with a non-conference trip to Nacogdoches, Texas to face the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin at 6 p.m. inside Homer Bryce Stadium on the SFA campus.