Season 2 of the Deion Sanders era at Jackson State opened up minus any offensive fireworks, although the Tigers got the victory with a 7-6 victory against Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic on Sunday.
The matchup was highly anticipated with Florida A&M joining the SWAC in the offseason and the coaching matchup pitted the NFL Hall of Famer Sanders against the Rattlers’ highly-respected coach Willie Simmons.
The result could be called the HBCU version of Georgia-Clemson, which ended in a 10-3 Bulldogs victory and zero offensive touchdowns.
The Tigers' victory at least had an offensive touchdown. It was scored on a 1-yard quarterback run by Sanders’ son, Shedeur, who had mixed results in taking the helm. Shedeur completed 18 of 24 passes for 221 yards and set up the score with a 32-yard completion.
But Sanders also fumbled three times, including the game’s first snap, and lost two. J-State had only 71 yards rushing.
Southern matched up against Troy for the season opener in Troy, Alabama Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Troy defeated the Jaguars 55-5.
“Shedeur was aight,” Sanders told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “I was in his butt, but you got to understand I’m his father too, and I know what he is capable of doing. He was trying to do too much early on.”
The game ranged between offensive ineptness and defensive dominance. The 13 points matched Georgia-Clemson and the second half was scoreless. There were 12 punts as the teams combined for 8-for-31 on third down conversions. The teams split 20 penalties evenly for a combined 142 yards. The Tigers had three turnovers and the Rattlers two.
The Rattlers used two quarterbacks — Rasean McKay and Junior Muratovic — who combined for only 125 yards passing and managed only a pair of field goals.
The Sanders Era moves on to a matchup of NFL superstars as college coaches when the Tigers player Tennessee State, coached by former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George. The game will be played at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
While Jackson State and FAMU played old school ball, Alabama A&M and South Carolina State were lighting up the scoreboard, with the Bulldogs taking a 42-41 victory. The teams combined for 1,024 yards and 43 first downs.
Reigning SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Aqueel Glass completed 28 of 49 passes for 426 yards and four touchdowns and ran one yard for the game winning score with 6:30 left.
Southern Carolina State rushed for 242 yards and passed for 213.
Miles to go
In a game of interest to Southern fans, Alabama State barely held off Division II Miles College, 14-13, in overtime. The Jaguars play Miles on Saturday at home in the Pete Richardson Classic at Mumford Stadium.
ASU defensive tackle Christian Clark blocked a Miles PAT attempt in overtime to set up the game winning score. Jacory Merritt ran for the touchdown and kicker Cosmin Dianconu made the extra point after missing a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation play.
Miles was scoreless until it tied the game with a touchdown with 3:44 left.
“We looked like an OK Division II team today,” ASU coach Donald Hill-Eley said. “That was OK for a win today.”
Grambling bounces back
Grambling started putting its nightmarish spring season behind it with a 16-10 victory against Tennessee State in the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic in Canton, Ohio. The game was the coaching debut for George.
The Tigers went 0-4 in the spring with multiple issues with coaches and players leaving and COVID-19 infections. One of the player defections was quarterback Geremy Hickbottom, who transferred to Tennessee State and started against his former team. He completed eight of 10 passes for 65 yards as one of three quarterbacks to play.
Grambling quarterback Elijah Walker threw for one touchdown and ran 4 yards for the go-ahead score in the third quarter. Grambling had only 184 yards of offense but benefitted from 18 TSU penalties for 150 yards.
“It was good to get a victory, Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs told the Canton Repository afterward. “Ugly victories are always good victories, too. I’m very pleased with our poise. We hung together, stuck together and continued to fight to get the victory.”
Southern coach Jason Rollins might grab a game ball from Saturday’s 55-3 loss to Troy, take it home and hide it for a while.
TROY, Ala. — En route to getting his career as a head coach underway, Southern’s Jason Rollins walked into a buzz saw Saturday night.