Deion Sanders restored Jackson State to a top notch standard
JACKSON, MELLE. – The sun had started to set on the east side of Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Crowds in the horseshoe-shaped hall – a hall that had just 58,892 people standing earlier in the afternoon – had started to decrease on the Alcorn side as Jackson State (10-1, 8 -0) knocked on the door for his final touchdown in the Soul Bowl.
When JSU and Alcorn State (6–5, 5–3) enter the field, it’s a huge battle to boast which team owns Mississippi State. It’s the battle of the bands – the “Sonic Boom of the South” and the “Sounds Of Dyn-O-mite” – coupled with what’s always a physical fight on the grill.
After the Boom put on a halftime show that honored Tigers head coach Deion Sanders in his first home game since being released from hospital, the Tigers carried that celebratory boost into the second half of the 75th edition of the competition to earn a 24-10 victory, its first victory in the rivalry since 2017.
After JSU added a 31-yard touchdown pass from Shedeur Sanders to Shane Hooks with 25 seconds left in the third quarter, the Tigers began to kiss the moment. The Tigers could taste a taste of what would be a win and an unbeaten conference record for the first time since 1995 under then-head coach James Carson.
Although JSU started the game offensively slowly, just as the schedule had done for the past four weeks, the Tigers left no doubt that they were ready to seal the victory over the Braves. Shedeur took the snap, immediately looked to his right and pushed the ball into the back corner of the end zone to find Keith Corbin III for a two-yard touchdown pass, effectively sealing the victory and sending out a sea of pom-poms blues and whites trembling throughout the stadium.
“We knew we just had to score one more time,” said Shedeur. “Our defense is amazing. I said on SWAC media day our defense is different. You all believe it now, you all see it. All we have to do is score points.”
Shedeur, who finished with 297 yards on 28 of 39 passes for three touchdowns in the game, moved up to third place, behind Robert Kent and Casey Therriault of JSU, for the most touchdown passes in a single season with 28.
As the Boom played “I Got 5 On It” to celebrate the touchdown, Tigers sporting director Ashley Robinson, wearing his blue jacket dubbed the 1400 Klub on the back, grabbed his daughter and headed for the zone. north to the JSU key to shake hands with his trainer.
Sanders has completed part of his mission – a winning season and an appearance in a SWAC Championship match – since stepping onto the podium on September 21, 2020 to become the 21st head coach of JSU’s football program. Even though Sanders missed three games due to his hospitalization due to complications from a foot surgery and rumors about his potential TCU coaching candidacy, he said he never doubted its objectives for the program.
“We believed from day one and we knew we would be sitting here in front of you [media] right now, “Sanders told media after Saturday’s win.” We’ve never doubted that, we’re resilient, we’ve never flinched. “
While Sanders, who completed his second regular season as the Tigers’ head coach, was happy with the victory, the program’s success goes beyond winning games and competing for SWAC titles.
Ahead of the start of the 2021 season, Sanders preached the idea that he wanted to not only make JSU stand out, but restore HBCU football as well.
“If you give us the resources, we’re going to prove that there is a freeway that takes you from Jackson State to the NFL,” Sanders said previously. Illustrated sports.
In 14 months, Sanders’ vision came to fruition, creating the highest-rated recruiting class in the school, a class that marked the first time that a recruiting class from an FCS program has been ranked in the Top 100. , generating extensive TV coverage with games and commercials offerings, as well as raising other HBCUs and expanding their reach in the Jackson community.
Saturday’s victory was another stepping stone on how Sanders hopes to continue his journey to change the narrative around the HBCUs but more specifically the landscape of JSU football.
“What’s a win for us at JSU, if we win the championship – and we’re going to do it – OK, and nobody goes pro, I don’t feel like we won”, said Sanders said. “If our graduation rate hasn’t gone up, have we won? It’s not just games, we’re trying to change the game in all its aspects.”
Jackson State will now play on his home turf against Prairie View on December 4 in the 2021 SWAC Championship game for a spot in the 2021 Celebration Bowl on December 18.
And for Sanders, the Tigers’ mission isn’t over until the final match is won.
“We are happy [about Saturday’s win] but we’re not done, “Sanders said.” I’m not a party type person who walks in and claps. … We still have work to do. We want to be dominant. We’re in the middle of the sentence, we’re trying to reach the exclamation mark. “
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