September 28, 2022

Photo Cred: Zach McKinnell/ The Bluebloods

The final Southern Heritage Classic between Jackson State and Tennessee State was an intense defensive battle between the Tigers. The final matchup brought over 51,000 fans to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, TN. QB Shedeur Sanders hit Willie Gaines with 2:20 left in the 4th quarter for a 27-yard touchdown, which was the only touchdown of the night from either team. 

Jackson State kicker Alejandro Mata was named the MVP after hitting three field goals (27, 28, & 34) on Saturday night. The Jackson State offense was able to produce over 400 yards of offense, but red zone struggles and turnovers kept Tennessee State in the game until late in the 4th quarter. Jackson State fumbled three times and lost two inside Tennessee State territory. Jackson State also had a field goal blocked early in the 1st quarter, which head coach Deion Sanders blamed on a missed assignment in the postgame press conference

Shedeur Sanders completed 68% of his passes for 276 passing yards and 1 touchdown on Saturday night. This game served as a breakout game for RB Sy’veon Wilkerson as the Delaware State transfer rushed for 81 yards and averaged over 5.0 yards per carry. WR Shane Hooks was targeted 13 times and totaled 9 catches for 93 yards.

EDGE rusher Nyles Gaddy was the most dominant player on the field in Memphis on Saturday night as he exploded for 4 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig led the Jackson State defense with 11 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, while Baron Hopson contributed 8 total tackles on the night. 

Tennessee State’s defense played excellent on Saturday night and made clutch stops when the Tigers needed them most, but the offensive failed to produce points after the opening drive of the game. QB Draylen Ellis was sacked 8 times and only completed 41% of his passes for 138 yards through the air. RB Devon Starling had a solid night with 70 yards rushing on 18 carries. K’Vaughan Pope, Gleson Sprewell, and Jashun Bryant led the Tennessee State defense with 9 total tackles. 

Jackson State moves to 2-0 on the season and will host Grambling State next weekend in a much anticipated SWAC matchup. Tennessee State falls to 0-2 with back-to-back losses to Top-15 teams and will travel to face Middle Tennessee State next weekend

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