BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Nasty weather, a tough Alabama A&M squad and a few costly mistakes couldn’t keep Prairie View A&M from reaching its season-long goal of winning the school’s first conference championship since 1964.
With quarterback K.J. Black leading the way, the Panthers claimed a 30-24 victory over Alabama A&M on Saturday in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game before a crowd of 20,218 at Legion Field.
Black, voted the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player, completed 18 of 28 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter when Prairie View (9-1) seized control.
“When I got here, all anybody was talking about this year was a championship,” said Black, a first-year transfer from Western Kentucky who went 8-0 as a starter this season. “When you can see that in somebody’s eyes and you know everybody is striving for the same goal, it makes you want to work that much harder. That collective effort got us to where we are right now.”
Six lead changes
Alabama A&M finished with a slight edge in yards 403-375 and first downs 24-21 but couldn’t overcome 13 penalties for 112 yards, including penalties that erased a touchdown and a turnover.
In a game featuring six lead changes, Prairie View made the last one early in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 21-17, the Panthers were in a third-and-19 hole. Black found wideout Anthony Weeden open across the middle, and Weeden wiggled his way for a 38-yard gain to ignite the drive.
Four plays later, Gabe Osaze-Ediae (seven receptions for 106 yards) got free on a crossing pattern for a 23-yard score early to put Prairie View ahead for good.
After Anthony Beck knocked the ball loose from Alabama A&M quarterback Deaunte Mason on a safety blitz, Quinton Spears recovered the fumble for the Panthers.
‘A great football game’
Black quickly connected with Weeden on a 22-yard score to put the Panthers up 30-21.
“It was a great football game, a championship football game that came down to a few plays to make the difference,” Prairie View coach Henry Frazier III said. “We made them.”