Panthers win State Farm Labor Day Classic

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: September 2, 2008

HOUSTON — The Prairie View A&M Panthers used a stingy, defensive attack to set the tone early to defeat the Texas Southern University Tigers 28-14 in the 24th Annual State Farm Labor Day Classic at Reliant Stadium.

Prairie View, who captured the Durley-Nicks Trophy for the fourth time in five years, got started early with their defensive game-plan led by SWAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and BTRC/BASN All-American Zach East.

East, along with defensive end Jamail Lavan and linebacker Gary Hicks made huge plays throughout the game. East had six tackles, including two for losses, Lavan intercepted a pass by TSU’s Bobby Reid and sacked him twice. Hicks also had two sacks in the game.

“We were prepared for whatever they did,” Prairie View head coach Henry Frazier said. “We have a sound defensive foundation, and once we got settled in, we were able to stop just about anything they threw at us.”

The Panthers established a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter before TSU ever scored. The Tigers got on the board before halftime as quarterback Bobby Reid, the former North Shore High standout scored on a 1-yard run .

PVA&M running back Donald Babers rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Babers, who scored on runs of nine and six yards in the first half, was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week.

The Panthers outgained TSU 207-5 in the game.

Texas Southern defensive back De”Markus Washington looked good as he intercepted two of Panthers quarterback Mark Spivey’s passes, helping to put the Tigers in position to score again.

The Tigers added another score in the third quarter as running back Marcus Wright scored on a 16-yard touchdown run. Washington’s second interception, a 58-yard return, set up this scoring drive.

TSU appeared to be on the verge of drawing closer after William Osbourne’s 45-yard punt return and ensuing personal foul set TSU up at the Panthers 13 yard line on the next series, but an illegal formation penalty and Lavan’s sack of Reid for a 10-yard loss led to a failed field goal attempt.

“The story of this game was that one team was more experienced while the other was playing its first game,” TSU head coach Johnnie Cole stated. “Prairie View has a good ballclub. You have to be able to take advantage of any opportunity you get against them, and we weren’t able to do that.”