Last Saturday witnessed Jackson State continue their near perfect season, capturing the SWAC Championship against Prarie View A&M. A 27-10 victory over the Panthers secured a birth in the Celebration Bowl, the national championship game for teams in the MEAC and SWAC Conferences.
While Jackson State struggled offensively in the game, the defense shined brightly, allowing just 230 total yards of offense from the Panthers. Prarie View A&M quarterback Juwan Pass threw for just 80 yards and also threw three interceptions. Backup quarterbacks Ty Holden and Trazen Connley weren’t much better, combining for 4-8 passing and 50 yards.
Jalin Howard led Prarie View A&M with 93 receiving yards, and four receptions. His longest catch of the day was 43 yards.
Jackson State quarterback Sheduer Sanders threw for only 85 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He was just 8-16. He didn’t have to worry, however. The Tigers’ defense did the talking.
Jackson State scored 13 points from defense and special teams. A 91-yard kickoff return from Isiah Bolden in the second quarter and a interception returned for a touchdown by James Houston IV in the third blew the game open for the Tigers.
If the Tigers’ defense can play anywhere near the level that they did against the Panthers, the Bulldogs are in a world of trouble.
South Carolina State won the MEAC championship, going 5-0 in league play. The Bulldogs finished the regular season by beating Norfolk State 31-21 Nov. 20, having already clinched the league title a week earlier.
The Bulldogs put up 422 yards of offense against the Spartans, 250 yards through the air from quarterback Corey Fields Jr. Kendrell Flowers ran for 172 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs lost their four of their first five games before winning five of their last six, finishing at 6-5. Fields finished the season with 1,931 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Flowers ran for 811 yards on 158 carries, a 5.1 yards per carry average.
Jackson State was five points away from a perfect season. Their lone loss was a 12-7 defeat against Louisiana-Monroe early in the season. The Tigers would finish 9-0 the rest of the season before defeating Prarie View for SWAC supremacy last Saturday. They come into Atlanta with an 11-1 record.
Freshman quarterback Sheduer Sanders has thrown for 3,056 passing yards and 29 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Sanders has had a committee of receivers to throw to. Keith Corban leads the team with 65 catches and 897 yards, along with six touchdowns. Malachi Wideman has a team-high 12 touchdowns on 31 catches and 498 yards.
The Tigers also have a potent running attack. Peyton Pickett has rushed for 435 yards and five touchdowns. Santee Marshall has rushed 426 yards and three touchdowns. J.D. Martin has 224 rushing yards and also has three touchdowns.
Jackson State’s defense has given up an average of just 99.5 rushing yards a game and 156.4 passing yards a game this season. They have 13 interceptions. James Houston leads the team with 14.5 sacks. Linebacker Aubrey Miller has 100 tackles on the season.
South Carolina State’s defense has allowed 131.2 rushing yards and 222.2 passing yards per game. They give up 27.6 points per game. Cornerback Decobie Durant has 11 pass deflections and four interceptions on the season.
“Prediction: The CRICKET CELEBRATION BOWL, Jackson State prevails a game Bulldogs’ squad to finish a dream season...Jackson State 31, South Carolina State 21.