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Southern University cornerback Tamaurice Smith (3) puts a hard hit on Jackson State Tigers wide receiver Josh Lanier (1) after a catch in the first half of their SWAC football game at A.W. Mumford Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.

What we learned

No matter how hard they try or how well they play, Southern can’t seem to finish a big game. The Jaguars outplayed SWAC unbeaten Jackson State for all but the final five minutes and not only came away empty handed but with a gut-punch loss in their storied rivalry. It wasn’t offense or defense solely at fault, both contributed to the collapse. The offense’s failure to get a TD from the 1-yard line to end the first half and the defense allowing a 50-yard TD pass for the deciding score.

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Jackson State completed its turnaround, clinching the SWAC East Division under second-year coach Deion Sanders, who was on the sideline in a motorized wheelchair recovering from foot surgery. The Tigers will go on to make their first appearance in the SWAC title game since losing to Southern in the 2013 contest. The Tigers will face either Prairie View or Alcorn State, the latter of which they play in their regular-season finale next week with a chance to finish the conference schedule unbeaten.

Final thoughts

An excellent ballgame was marred by a postgame scuffle between players that lasted a few minutes but never completely got out of control. It’s a poor look to the end of a home season that will result in Southern’s first losing record since 2012. The spectacle of the Bayou Classic remains in two weeks, but the Jaguars will spend the offseason thinking about what ould have been. They were blessed with six home games and two of the largest crowds in recent history. A handful of plays could have made it a completely different story.