The Jackson State Tigers controlled the tempo of the Louisiana-Monroe game with talent, speed, and confidence but fell short of their goal to win.
Deion Sanders' was right. HBCUs can compete against FBS programs with the right talent and coaching.
The first half of the JSU-ULM contest was a defensive affair. ULM struck first with a K Southerland field goal in the first quarter to lead 3-0. The drive took 3:11 and went for ten plays and 45 yards.
The next several drives for both teams were unproductive after successfully moving into the other's territory. The Warhawks were never comfortable due to the Tigers' relentless defensive pressure. The speed of JSU's defenders was the difference, and offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez's up-tempo offense was unbalanced.
Jackson State finally found its rhythm on offense when quarterback Shedeur Sanders operated from the 50-yard line. He guided a four play drive in 2:18 when Josh Lanier grabbed his 24-yard pass for a touchdown. Jackson State finally led after controlling the clock and total yardage in the game. JSU led 7-3, with 6:03 remaining in the first half.
Rodriguez put the Warhawks in a position to score before halftime, but Southerland could not connect on a 51-yard attempt.
Jackson State led at halftime, 7-3.
The third quarter was uneventful until Southerland boomed a 45 yarder with 3:12 on the clock. JSU kept its lead at 7-6.
ULM was starting to find success blitzing Sanders as the Tigers' offensive line was wearing down. Yet, the freshman gun-slinger was connecting with his receivers while under pressure from Bowden's defense.
Rogers entered the game to relieve Rodriguez for ULM. He was able to march downfield on his legs with RPOs. The officials called a targeting call on DB Cameron Silmon after Rogers awkwardly released the football on what appeared to be a fumble. The call was reversed, and the Warhawks had a 4th and 11 at the JSU 31-yard line. After the drive stalled, Southerland split the uprights for a 42-yard field goal. The Warhawks claimed the lead at 9-7 over the Tigers with 11:37 on the game clock. The 11 play, 55-yard drive was what Bowden's Boys needed at home.
Shedeur Sanders was behind in the 4th quarter. His receivers had uncharacteristic drops on the evening and created several 3rd and longs. Still, the freshman stayed cool under pressure and delivered on a 3rd and 14 to keep the drive alive.
The Warhawks' defense blitzed again and Sanders scrambled 11 yards for a first down to the ULM 33-yard line, but the play was reversed. The Tigers did not convert and punted to ULM.
DT Davis stopped Rogers to have the football punted to JSU and fielded at the 45-yard line with 5:34 left to play in the game. Unfortunately, Sanders threw his first interception of the year to Warhawks LB Woodard.
Jackson State had two turnovers on promising drives. ULM started to use the ground game to take time off the play clock. Bowden had to make a decision. Should he allow, Southerland to kick a field goal or try to convert the fourth down. He chose Southerland, and he blasted a 49 yarder to go up by 5 points, 12-7, with 2:24 left in the FBS-FCS tilt.
After Sanders' errant pass, the ULM drive was five plays, 14 yards, in 3:00 minutes.
Jackson State made another error. ULM placed a helmet on the football, Warren coughed up the rock, and Holly pounced on it. The Warhawks were in control.
Southerland missed his field goal with 26 seconds left. A penalty pushed the football back, and JSU needed 79 yards for a touchdown to win. Unfortunately, the Tigers' bid fell short, and ULM won 12-7.
JSU is now 2-1 on the season, and ULM is 1-1.
Deion Sanders' squad had too many errors to overcome. But Sanders' point of HBCU schools' ability to be competitive with FBS programs is valid.
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