In week 4, Southern University came away with a SWAC victory against Jackson State in the W.C. Gorden Classic in Jackson, Miss.
Special teams play sparked Southern University to a 28-21 SWAC victory against Jackson State in the W.C. Gorden Classic at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss., Saturday night, and made Dawson Odums a winner in his first game since replacing Stump Mitchell as coach of the Jaguars.
The Jaguars (1-2, 1-1 SWAC) scored a touchdown on a kickoff return and had another set up by a blocked punt as they took a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
“Special teams lit their fire and dampened ours,” Jackson State coach Rick Comegy said in a postgame interview. “They got the return and came back with a play-action pass for a touchdown and got 14 points in a hurry. That kind of set the pace for them because (their momentum) was sky high.’’
The victory was the first for Southern against Jackson State following three straight losses to the Tigers (1-3, -1-1 SWAC), and it could prove to be a watershed moment for Jaguars. Odums, the team’s defensive coordinator, replaced Mitchell after the Jaguars lost to Mississippi Valley State 6-0 in a nationally televised contest on Sept. 13. Mitchell was 6-18 after he placed Pete Richardson following the 2009 season and Jaguar fans were disenchanted with him from the moment he was hired. The Jaguars’ victory against Jackson State, one of the favorites in the SWAC East Division, gives them life in the SWAC West race and could rally fan support, which was dwindling.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a win like that at Southern University,” Odums said. “You saw a team that willed itself to victory.’’
Mitchell, who reportedly was reassigned within the University but says that’s not the case, attended the game. He undoubtedly liked what he saw.
Jaleel Richardson returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown for a 7-0 Southern lead. When Jackson State’s offense bogged down on its first possession, the Jaguars blocked a punt by Michael Perkins and got the ball the Tigers’ 25. From there quarterback Dray Joseph connected with Mike Berry on first down for the score that gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead.