By Tim Ward,
Playing for the first time this season without Head Coach Deion Sanders, Jackson State came out looking terrible initially. Coach Sanders did not coach due to doctor’s orders to rest his foot. He had surgery on his left foot, 3 weeks ago. Sloppy play, no energy, and lack of aggression were very apparent early on for the tigers. With about 30,000 less people in the stands than the previous week’s homecoming game, (many whom were still recovering from homecoming festivities) and playing a winless team, JSU seemed bored. At one point, Jackson State actually trailed 9-0 12:24 into the second quarter. Those in attendance were shocked and equally those viewing scores view social media. 9:53 left before halftime, JSU would score on a 28 yard pass from Shedeur Sanders to Malachi Wideman. Finally settling into a groove, the tigers would score again before halftime. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders would score on a 17 yard run. Shedeur’s brother, Shilo nabbed his first interception of the season, returning in down to the 4 yard line. Shilo almost had the opportunity to do his dad’s famous touchdown dance. Jackson State would score with 16 seconds left before halftime. Sanders to Wideman connected for a second time propelling Jackson State to a 21-9 halftime lead. Tiger Nation was breathing a sigh of relief.
Fresh out of the locker room to receive the second half kickoff, JSU’s Isaiah Bolden returned the kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. 28-9 now with THEE I LOVE in full control. Malachi Wideman and Shedeur Sanders would connect two more times for touchdowns giving Wideman 4 touchdowns on the day. Wideman would finish with 9 receptions for 169 yards and 4 touchdowns. Quarterback Sanders finished the day 18 of 25 for 309 yards with 4 touchdown passes. If there was some cause for concern, it would have to be that Sanders was sacked 7 times. The offensive line needs to sure up some blocking assignments to protect Shedeur.
Next up for Jackson State is Mississippi Valley State. The tigers travel to Itta Bena to battle the Delta Devils. Valley only has 2 wins on the season, however, the games have been competitive. They lost to Alcorn 24-12 and fell short to Florida A&M by 3 points. Jackson State can’t afford to take them lightly. Word is Coach Sanders won’t be traveling with the team to coach to give his foot another week of healing time. Jackson State sits alone in first place in the Eastern Division of the SWAC and is ranked nationally #16 in the FCS Coaches Poll and #20 Stats FCS Top 25 poll. Kickoff is set for 3 pm at Rice-Totten Stadium on the campus of Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena. For those tiger fans making the drive, it is a “white-out” game. JSU is requesting tiger fans to dress in white shirts/apparel. If Jackson State continues their winning ways, the SWAC championship game, scheduled for December 4th could be played in Jackson. If the season ended today, it would be Jackson State vs Prairie View who leads the Western Division of the SWAC. The next few weeks are critical for those teams trying to punch that championship ticket.