NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Southern University overcame an early 14-point deficit to claim a 21-20 fourth quarter lead but fell down the stretch as Grambling escaped with a 30-21 win in the 44th annual Bayou Classic Saturday.

The Jaguars, who fell into a 14-0 hole in the first half, held the Southwestern Athletic Conference's top offense scoreless in the third quarter before senior Austin Howard led the Jaguars when they needed him the most.

Following a Marc Orozco 37-yard field goal push the Tigers lead to 20-14, Howard drove Southern down the field completing five passes for 46 yards. Dillon Beard caught an 8-yard out from Howard to put the exclamation point on a gritty 12-play, 54-yard drive that gave the Jaguars a 21-20 lead with 5:02 left in the game.

The Jaguars converted two third downs and one pivotal fourth down when Howard found tight end Jeremias Houston for a 10-yard gain over the middle on 4th and 2 from the Grambling 32.

But the defending SWAC Champions responded, scoring the games final 10 points to seal the win and earn the program's third straight Bayou Classic win and third straight SWAC West Division title. The Tigers will represent the West in next Saturday's SWAC Championship game in Houston, where they will face the Alcorn State Braves in NRG Stadium

Howard, who earned Bayou Classic MVP honor, finished 24-of-41 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Beard and freshman Kendall Catalon each hauled in a team high five receptions. Herb Edwards ended his SU career with 14 carries for 68 yards.

-SU-