Mississippi football roundup: JSU beats Alcorn in the Soul Bowl; Valley upsets Prairie View; Delta State wins big in D-II playoffs
Published 8:34 pm Saturday, November 19, 2022
LORMAN — On a scale of 1 to 10 for Jackson State, this victory was an 11.
Freshman Travis Hunter, a two-way player who was widely considered the top recruit in the class of 2022, returned an interception for a touchdown and caught a 19-yard TD pass to help Jackson State beat Alcorn State 24-13 Saturday to complete the first 11-0 regular season in program history.
Jackson State (11-0, 8-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference), which has won 17 consecutive conference games, plays in the SWAC title game Dec. 3.
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Jackson State is the first SWAC team to go undefeated in the regular season since Alabama State in 1991.
Alcorn State (5-6, 4-4) had a longshot chance at a rematch with the Tigers, but couldn’t take care of the one part of a complex sequence of events it actually controlled.
Alcorn needed to beat Jackson State; have Grambling defeat Southern University next weekend; and then have Prairie View and Texas Southern both lose. The latter two did happen, but the Braves’ loss eliminated them from contention for the SWAC’s West Division title.
Alcorn also finished with a losing record for the first time since 2016, and just the second time since 2013.
Justin Ragin’s strip-sack of Alcorn State’s Tre Lawrence was recovered by Jeremiah Brown, and a play later Sy’veon Wilkerson scored on a 2-yard run to make it 10-7 with 8:06 left in the second quarter. Then, 27 seconds later, Hunter’s 44-yard pick-six gave the Tigers a 10-point lead.
Hunter, who finished with two receptions for 49 yards along with four tackles, capped the scoring with a phenomenal 30-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders was 18-of-29 passing for 216 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked five times, but did set JSU single-season records for completions (284) and touchdown passes (32).
Wilkerson finished with 63 rushing yards and a TD. Ragin had three sacks and a forced fumble.
Jarveon Howard scored on a 2-yard run to give Alcorn State a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. He finished with 96 rushing yards on 28 carries.
Lawrence, though, was just 8-of-23 passing for 153 yards, and was sacked five times. Backup Tevarrius Adams was also sacked twice after coming in for Lawrence on the Braves’ final possession of the game.
Alcorn was 4-for-17 on third downs.
Mississippi Valley State 27, Prairie View A&M 7
Jalani Eason threw a 15-yard touchdown to Sylvester Campbell, and Kenneth Martin’s 47-yard interception return touchdown sparked Mississippi Valley State to a stunning upset of Prairie View A&M.
Those two plays late in the third quarter, less than two minutes apart, made it a 17-7 contest and the Delta Devils (2-9, 2-6 SWAC) were never threatened again.
Orlando Fernandez kicked a 36-yard field goal with 6:03 remaining and Jared Wilson ran it in from the 5 for good measure.
Valley forced four turnovers in the game.
Quarterback Trazon Conley was 7-of-15 passing for 82 yards for Prairie View (6-5, 5-3), and also ran for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Prairie View could have clinched the SWAC West title with a win. Southern is now in the driver’s seat for the division title, and will clinch if it can beat Grambling on Nov. 26 in New Orleans.
Delta State 51, Fayetteville State 0
Delta State began the next leg of its journey toward a national championship with a blowout victory.
Patrick Shegog threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, and the Statesmen scored on a fumble return and a blocked punt as they crushed Fayetteville State (9-3) in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
The special teams and defensive touchdowns came about 3 1/2 minutes apart late in the first quarter and early in the second and gave Delta State a 28-0 lead.
Delta State ran for 246 yards as a team, led by Kelvin Smith with 58 and Shegog with 56. Kory Gainwell had 47 yards and a touchdown.
Fayetteville State committed five turnovers, including the fumble that Christian Gomez returned 23 yards for a TD.
Delta State (11-1) advanced to the second round and will play Gulf South Conference rival West Florida on Nov. 26 in Cleveland. Delta State beat West Florida 45-42 in September.