South Carolina State took Jackson State to the woodshed and gave the Tigers a good ol’ fashioned low country whoopin’. Cory Fields threw four touchdowns to lift the Bulldogs to a 31-10 win in the sixth Celebration Bowl.
J-State Head Coach Deion Sanders said during Thursday’s press conference that few believed his Tigers would have a season like they did and end up in the Black College Football Championship game. If Coach Sanders believed they were overlooked then the Bulldogs couldn’t have been given a speck of hope.
“I was in the mall with my teammates and the people were saying, “so ya’ll the
team that’s playing against Jackson State,” said Bulldogs DB Decobie Durant. “Like they had never heard of South Carolina State.”
The Bulldogs were undoubtedly underdogs coming into the game but history favored the MEAC. Ironically, SC State’s rival, North Carolina A&T, won four of the first five Celebration Bowl games. Only Grambling State managed to escape Atlanta with a ring.
Jackson State freshman quarterback Shedeur Sanders dismissed the so-so spring season because the players weren’t recruited by Coach Sanders.
Sanders wasn’t totally wrong. The Tigers handled all comers going undefeated in the SWAC and losing a close one 7-12 to Louisiana-Monroe in week 3. Southern gave the Tigers a scare down in Baton Rouge in week 11. The Sanders brothers, Shedeur and Shilo, led the team’s comeback and close out of the Jaguars.
Two of the Tigers’ wins came against Florida A&M and Alabama A&M two teams the Bulldogs lost to during the season.
While Sanders’ squad rolled over Prairie View A&M in the SWAC Championship game two weeks ago, Buddy Pough was preparing for Saturday. “We got an opportunity to start working on them right off the bat because we had a feeling Jackson State would be the winner of the SWAC,” said Coach Pough.
The preparation showed in every facet of the game. Sanders’ 7-yard touchdown pass to Keith Corbin gave the Tigers its first and only lead of the game. The Jerry Rice Award winner completed 16 of his 36 passes and was intercepted twice.
Sanders’ inconsistency through the air had more to do with the pressure from the Bulldogs’ defense. Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator David Blanchard dialed up the pressure.
Bulldogs defensive end Patrick Godbolt answered the call sacking Sanders and forcing a fumble. BJ Davis recovered the fumble at the Tigers’ 5-yard line to set up the Bulldogs’ first score.
Quarterback Corey Fields wasted no time delivering a strike to Shaquan Davis on the slant route into the end zone.
Pough credited the early momentum to his punter Dyson Roberts. “The punter (Dyson) was the MVP of the game without a doubt,” said Pough. “We hadn’t done a thing on offense for the entire first quarter. And then he hits a punt and completely flips the field, and we were able to get a turnover on defense and give the offense a short field and get a score.”
Dyson’s 68-yard punt in the third quarter pinned the Tigers at their 11. Kendall Moultrie made an acrobatic interception off a Sanders pass that went through the hands of Warren Newman. Fields and Davis turned the turnover into another touchdown and a 17-7 lead.
SC State’s lead ballooned to 24-7 following another interception of Sanders. This time freshman linebacker Aaron Smith gobbled up a Sanders pass that was tipped at the line.
Back under center Fields spread the touchdown wealth around finding Richard Bailey virtually alone at the goal line.
Fields and Davis hooked up one more time early in the fourth quarter to cap the Bulldogs’ route.
“South Carolina State kicked our butt,” said Head Coach Deion Sanders. “Every way, every fashion, they were more physical than us, more disciplined than us.”
The MEAC closed out the 2021 HBCU football season the same way it began with a win over a SWAC opponent. http://core360sports.com/wordpress/nccu-defeats-alcornst-meacswac/
Game Photo Gallery
All photos by Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports