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.
Joseph completed 17 of 28 passes for 249 yards, and Berry had five receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns as the Jaguars built a 28-0.
Quarterback Clayton Moore, the hero of Jackson State’s 45-35 victory against Texas Southern a week earlier when he accounted for six touchdowns and threw for 363 yards, was ineffective against Southern. Moore was 8-for-18 for 72 yards. Dedric McDonald, who started Jackson State’s first two games, replaced Moore. McDonald threw touchdown passes of 13 and 16 yards to Rico Richardson, and he scored on a one-yard run to rally the Tigers. McDonald completed 19 of 34 attempts for 230 yards while leading the Tigers to 21 fourth-quarter points.
“It was two games – a first half game and a second half game. I didn’t see us play well in the first half nor did I see us play well on the first snap of the second half. After that I thought we settled in and started trying to play some defense and putting some points on the board. We could have easily let the game, and it could have been a 42-0 situation.’’
Tennessee State 21, Bethune-Cookman 14: The Wildcats, No. 1 among black colleges entering the game, ran out of comebacks and suffered a home loss to red hot Tennessee State. Bethune-Cookman (2-2) rallied from 14-point or more deficits in its victories against Alabama State and South Carolina State, but the Wildcats were unable to erase the 21-point advantage that Tennessee State (4-0) in the second quarter. Running back Trabis Ward, who rushed for 154 yards, scored a pair of touchdowns and the Tigers returned a blocked field goal for another score for a comfortable 21-0 lead. Redshirt freshman quarterback Quentin Williams replaced starter Brodrick Waters in the second period for Bethune-Cookman and led the Wildcats to 14 points in the final 1:03 period to tighten the score. Williams threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Preston Cleckley, and LeBrandon Richardson returned an errant Tennessee State lateral 47 yards for a score. The second half settled into a defensive struggle, and neither team’s offense held the ball for more than seven plays. Tennessee State is 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
Miles 41, Albany State 6: The Golden Bears sent a message that there has been a power shift in the SIAC with their road victory against the Golden Rams in a potential preview of the SIAC Championship Game. The win was the second in a row for Miles (3-1, 1-0 SIAC) against Albany State (1-3, 0-1 SIAC). The Golden Bears beat Albany State in the inaugural SIAC title game last season, ending a nine-game losing streak against the Golden Rams. Miles’ victory in the championship game was nail-biter as the teams battled back and forth before the Golden Bears emerged 20-17. It was a different story this time. The outcome was never in doubt after the second period as Miles built a 17-0 lead. The Golden Bears punished Albany State’s proud defense, rolling up 420 total yards. Running back Floyd Graves led the rushing attack with 126 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback David Thomas completed 14 of 24 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 24, Alabama State 21: The Golden Lions made a statement that they can’t be discounted in the SWAC championship race with their nationally televised road victory against the SWAC East Division favorites at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery. The Golden Lions (3-1, 2-1 SWAC) lead the West after shredding Alabama State’s defense with a balanced offense that produced 466 yards. Running back Justin Billings rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and Dennis Jenkins added 82 yards on 19 carries as the Golden Lions picked up 246 yards on the ground. Quarterback Ben Anderson passed for 220 yards and touchdown. Quarterback Greg Jenkins was the offensive star for Alabama State (2-2, 2-1 SWAC) with 289 total yards – 102 rushing and 187 passing. Running back Isaiah Crowell, the Hornets’ much-celebrated transfer from the University of Georgia, rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries. Alabama State had a chance to send the game into overtime after trailing 24-14 going into the fourth quarter. However, Bobby Wenzig’s 44-yard field goal attempt with 56 seconds left was wide right.
Chowan 49, Shaw 35
Elizabeth City State 20, Fayetteville State 13
Johnson C. Smith 28, Virginia State 21
Livingstone 48, Lincoln (Pa.) 44
Saint Augustine’s 38, Bowie State 22
Winston-Salem State 35, Virginia Union 6
Florida A&M 24, Delaware State 22
North Carolina Central 45, Savannah State 33
Ohio 44, Norfolk State 10
Concordia-Selma 22, Clark Atlanta 17
Fort Valley State 33, Benedict 10
Lane 37, Morehouse 34 (OT)
Stillman 27, Kentucky State 8
Alabama A&M 42, Texas Southern 13
Arkansas State 56, Alcorn State
North Dakota State 66, Prairie View A&M 7
Northwestern State 45, Miss Valley State 14
Other Conference Results
Concord 23, West Virginia State 16
East Stroudsburg 59, Cheyney 27
Edward Waters 59, New Orleans 12
Lamar 31, Langston 0
Pittsburg State 59, Lincoln (Mo.) 17
Saint Joseph’s 42, Central State 36
UNC-Pembroke 30, Virginia University of Lynchburg 7