Regular Season Perfection

Deion Sanders coached JSU to a perfect regular season. Photo By Tim Ward

By Tim Ward,

Mississippi Link Sports Writer,

Coach Fred McNair kept the game close; was only trailing 17-13 early in the 4th quarter. Photos by Jay Johnson

First time in school history, 11 & 0 overall record. Second consecutive 8 & 0 record in the SWAC. Back to Back Eastern division SWAC champions. Hosting SWAC championship game in consecutive years. JSU is the first team since Alcorn, in 1984, to go undefeated and untied in the SWAC.

There are so many things can be said about the magical season for Jackson State University. The team has just been dominate. Some games, the offense could do no wrong and scored at will. In other games, the offense got off to slow starts, but managed to score enough to win the game. The defense has been lights out all season. The Darkside Defense was allowing an average of 9.8 points per game heading into the game with Alcorn last Saturday.

Alcorn became the 10th team this season to score 14 points or less. With their spot in the championship game already solidified, JSU could’ve taken the approach of resting players to prevent injury. That was not the case. JSU came out to finish the regular season strong.

Alcorn State started the game with still a slim chance of making it to the championship game.  They needed losses by Prairie View, Southern and Texas Southern and to win against Jackson State. It started well, Prairie View lost to Valley and Texas Southern lost to Alabama A&M. Alcorn came out aggressive. Their defense was making a statement.

Travis Hunter is a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award this season. PHOTO BY TIM WARD

Early in the second quarter, running back Jarveon Howard scored on a two yard, giving Alcorn a 7 to 3 lead. JSU was able to rally to take a 17-7 lead at the halftime. Alcorn kept the game close; was only trailing 17-13 early in the 4th quarter. With 11:26 left in the game, JSU would score to take a 24-13 lead. 24-13 ended up being the final score, Alcorn concluded their season 5-6 overall with a 4-4 SWAC record. Alcorn State head coach Fred McNair and Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders embraced after the game.

The number one overall recruit in the nation last season, Travis Hunter, made a huge impact on the game. Hunter would score twice.  His first touchdown came in the second quarter when he intercepted Alcorn quarterback Tre Lawrence, and returned it 44 yards. In the fourth quarter, Hunter would make a beautiful catch over an Alcorn defender and drag his foot in the endzone to secure the touchdown. Hunter’s stats for the day were, 2 receptions for 49 yards and 4 tackles, 3 pass breakups, 1 interception and 2 touchdowns. Keep in mind, he’s a true freshman.

Shedeur Sanders won the Jerry Rice Award last season. PHOTO BY TIM WARD

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders completed 18 of 29 passes for 216 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Sanders’ historic season has him listed as a finalist for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame’s Conerly Trophy. This award is given to the most outstanding college or university football player in Mississippi. The winner will be announced November 29.  

Listed below are the finalist this year for the award.

• Alcorn State University – Jarveon Howard (Running Back)

• Belhaven University – Connor Fordham (Linebacker)

• Delta State University – Patrick Shegog (Quarterback)

• Jackson State University – Shedeur Sanders (Quarterback)

• Millsaps College – Moïse Tezzo (Wide Receiver/Kick Returner)

• Mississippi College – Marcus Williams (Running Back)

• Mississippi State University – Emmanuel Forbes, Jr. (Defensive Back)

• Mississippi Valley State University – Ronnie Thomas (Defensive Lineman)

• University of Mississippi – Quinshon Judkins (Running Back)

• University of Southern Mississippi – Jason Brownlee (Wide Receiver)

Hunter is also a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, which goes to the top freshman football player in the state. Sanders won the award last season.

Next for JSU is the SWAC championship game December 3, 2022 in Jackson. Their opponent has yet to be determined. Prairie View currently sits in the top spot. However, Southern University is in the driver seat, but must defeat Grambling in the Bayou Classic this weekend.

Jackson State defeated Southern University 35-0 a couple of weeks ago. A loss would send Prairie View to the championship game. Jackson State did not play Prairie View this season, but if they end up playing Prairie View, it would be a rematch of last season’s SWAC championship game.

See additional game photos on page 15.

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