Jackson State's head coach Deion Sanders appeared calm in his motorized scooter along the sidelines on a clear and cool Louisiana evening in Baton Rouge. He closely watched his team claim the SWAC East title after another slow and sluggish start to the game.
The big plays from Shedeur and Shilo's were critical for Jackson State (9-1, 7-0 SWAC) to secure the win 21-17 victory and move a step closer to the 2021 SWAC Championship game on Dec. 3.
Last night, Shedeur and Shilo Sanders became Jackson State legends in front of 25,379 rowdy fans at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
The Jaguars had a nine-game winning streak against Jackson State but blew a ten-point lead before attempting to lock up their tenth-straight win of the Boom Box Classic.
HOW JSU WON THE EAST TITLE
The Tigers trailed 17-7 as the fourth quarter opened. Then Shedeur Sanders began to "put in the work" and rally his teammates for the double-digit deficit. The freshman phenom had 298 yards (260 passing, 38 yards rushing) of total offense for the Tigers. More than his passing feats, a couple of his 11 rushes resulted in critical first downs.
The offense was out of sync for most of the game. However, just like a prizefighter figures a way to avoid an upset and pull out the win in the late rounds, Deion Sanders' Tigers learned how to win with being on the ropes.
The box score will read Shedeur Sanders recorded 24 of 31 passing attempts for 260 yards, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. But the black and white typeface won't say how Shedeur hung in the pocket with a Jaguar's defender barreling down. He took the hit while tossing a 50-yard dagger to Malachi Wideman for the go-ahead touchdown.
It's cliche but true in this case. Sanders "put the entire team on his back," rallied, and carried them to victory.
SHILO'S BIG PLAYS
Shedeur's older brother and the Tigers' defensive back Shilo made three pivotal plays on Saturday.
- He prevented a Glendon McDaniel touchdown with a tackle at the 1-yard line. Which led to a goal-line stand, and Southern did not score before halftime. (Note official stats list Davis on the tackle, but it was Sanders.)
- He had a pass break-up at the four-yard line on Southern's final drive.
- He intercepted McDaniel's final pass to seal the win.
Good teams grit through poor performances and find ways to win. That's what you saw in this Jackson State team. When the defense needed plays from their stars like James Houston, Keonte Hampton, Aubrey Miller, Antwan Owens, John Huggins, Cam'Ron Silmon, and Shilo Sanders, they made them.
The wide receivers dropped footballs and were on a different page at times from Sanders. Whereas that was the case, Keith Corbin, Malachi Wideman, and Trevonte Rucker stepped up their game in the fourth stanza.
The Sanders Young Men performances stood out on Saturday night. Both demonstrated that they indeed could similarly affect a football game as their illustrious father did on many occasions in college and the pros.
Alcorn State will pay a visit to Jackson on Nov. 20. It's a must-win contest for the Braves stay remain in the hunt for the SWAC West title. Coach McNair's team shocked the SWAC and defeated the West Division leader Prairie View on Saturday afternoon in Week 11.
Jackson State already secured a berth for the SWAC Championship game on Dec. 3. A win over the Braves would give the Tigers an unblemished SWAC regular season record, move them up the polls, and closer to FCS playoffs consideration.