By Tim Ward
After being on the road to open the season for three consecutive weeks, JSU played their first home game in front of an announced crowd of over 20,000. Low numbers since the last time Southern came to Jackson. Saturday’s (Sept. 22) game against Southern was a great example of how Tiger fans are feeling. Let me explain. At this point in the season, die hard fans expected to be at least 2 & 2 after Saturday, not 1 & 3.
Let’s break it down. First game, Mississippi State, yeah right. Thanks for the fundraiser. Second game, Jackson “moves” to Memphis for the weekend. While every Jacksonian who traveled to Memphis wanted Jackson State to win, as long as Beale Street was open, the game didn’t “really” matter.
Third game in Houston against Texas Southern, JSU rallies to win 45 to 35. Fourth game against Southern, a team that had just lost to Mississippi Valley State, fired their coach and was feeling at an all-time low, JSU doesn’t even show up to play until the fourth quarter. Too little too late. Southern wins 28 to 21. OMG……
It was like watching a horror movie. Southern scored on the opening kickoff, an 86 yard touchdown untouched! Jackson State gets their punt blocked. Southern scores on their first offensive play! It’s 14 to 0 and fans are still coming into the stadium!
JSU gets the ball again and one thing is apparent, Clayton Moore is not Casey Theriault. Incomplete passes galore. He even threw a couple to me on the sideline. Maybe the pressure of playing in front of the home crowd got to him. He definitely didn’t look comfortable back there.
In the second quarter, Southern adds another touchdown giving them a 21 to 0 lead. JSU switches quarterbacks. Dedric McDonald comes in and provides a spark. He leads the team inside the redzone with under a minute to play in the half. He fires a strike into the endzone.
Michael Perkins can’t hold on to the ball. The ball hits his hands, hits a Southern defensive player in the helmet, bounces up and another Southern defender makes the interception! WOW…. That’s the kind of first half it was for JSU.
Southern scored again in the third quarter officially making it a blowout at that point. Moore continued to leave the home crowd wondering if Theriault had a year of eligibility left that maybe he didn’t know about.
All jokes aside, Moore’s problem Saturday was holding on to the football too long. Many of those hits he took could have been avoided, hence helping him to gain some confidence.
Moore was once again replaced by McDonald in the middle of the 3rd quarter. Jackson State scored their first touchdown on a pass from McDonald to Rico Richardson. That sparked a couple of pom pom waves, but Tiger fans were still either in shock or upset. Jackson State’s defense held Southern in check. Second possession of the fourth quarter, McDonald marches the team down the field, and touchdown Tigers!!
The crowd is getting excited, Tiger players are high-fiving each other now. Once again, the defense holds Southern scoreless! Southern’s sideline is getting nervous. McDonald guides the team down; however this drive, the clock isn’t on their side. They’re moving the ball but taking too long. Clock is ticking, crowd is yelling snap it on every play. A few plays later, McDonald scores on a quarterback sneak!
Crowd is pumped! Sonic Boom playing. It’s almost pandemonium. Southern gets the ball with about 4 minutes and some change left and they are slowly but surely picking up first down after first down. Jackson State has run out of timeouts. A Tiger player was injured, temporarily stopping the clock. Once he was assisted off the field, the ref waved his arm and the clock started back from 29 seconds. Southern’s sideline erupts because they do not have to snap the ball again. Southern survives the furious Jackson State comeback attempt to win 28 to 21.
Several key points or questions stood out about the Tigers on Saturday. Has Coach Comegy lost the team? What was wrong with Clayton Moore? Moore passed for 363 yards against Texas Southern but only 72 at home against Southern.
Dedric McDonald is flashy, but he got the job done Saturday. McDonald compiled over 200 yards passing in limited duties. Jackson State has no running game whatsoever. What happened to the “Darkside Defense?” JSU took Southern lightly because they lost to Valley. Despite an overall record of 1 & 3, JSU is 1 & 1 in the division and still alive for post season play. After 4 games, they have seen practically everything imaginable.
JSU plays at home this Saturday (Sept. 29) against Prairie View. Gametime 4 p.m. If JSU can’t pull this one off, the coaching staff is in serious jeopardy.
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