For the better part of three-and-a-half quarters, the Jackson State Tigers were thoroughly outplayed on the road by the Southern Jaguars.
But with coach Deion Sanders back on the sidelines for the first time in four weeks, the Tigers rallied for the 21-17 win, clinching the programs’ first trip to the SWAC title game since 2013.
Sanders and JSU will be looking to bring the title back to Jackson for the first time since 2007. With a win in the season finale against Alcorn State next week, the Tigers will also clinch homefield in the title game. Festivities for that will take place at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Coach Prime On Sidelines In Wheelchair| Team Feeds Off That Energy
Well isn't this a surprise…
— Kevin Batiste (@KBatisteJr) November 13, 2021
Sanders has been battling some health issues since having surgery on his foot about six weeks ago.
Sanders hasn’t been on the sidelines since a record crowd of 53,000 packed Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium for homecoming as the Tigers defeated the Alabama State Hornets (28-7).
Assistant head coach Gary “The Flea” Harrell has handled the head coaching duties in Coach Prime’s absence, keeping the ship upright, moving forward going 4-0.
With Sanders back on the sidelines, although nowhere near 100 percent, the Tigers dug deep and pulled out the win; his presence alone seemed to inspire the team.
Coach Prime was overwhelmed by his team’s grit and JSU’s ability to pull out the hard-fought win in hostile territory.
Sanders shared a very emotional moment with star quarterback and son Shedeur.
I’m so proud of our young men for tonight’s comeback win @GoJSUTigersFB. This was right after @ShedeurSanders threw the game winning touchdown to @mightymal13 with under 2 minutes left. I love y’all and I BELIEVE! pic.twitter.com/us09scVfnC
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) November 14, 2021
Sanders’ Sons Shedeur and Shilo Come Up Huge In Win
In one of the rare moments this season, Tigers quarterback Shedeur Sanders struggled just about the entire game on offense.
The Walter Payton and Jerry Rice Award nominee was off and a bit erratic with a lot of his throws. He threw two early interceptions, almost as many as he’s thrown (three) all season coming into the game.
But Sheduer has been a cool cucumber all season and has led JSU to several comeback wins on this 2021 journey, so the field general didn’t fret. When his team needed him to elevate his game in crunch time, he was there.
The freshman sensation tossed two touchdown passes in the last four minutes, including the game-winning 50-yarder with 1:30 left while under heavy duress.
He now has 25 TD passes for the season.
Shilo, the South Carolina transfer, doesn’t get the adulation that his younger sibling Shedeur receives, but Shilo is dynamite in his own right.
The “other” Sanders brother sealed the victory with an interception in the waning seconds. The pick secured the win and clinched the Eastern Division of the SWAC for the Tigers.
JSU’s Shilo Sanders comes up with a INT for Tigers.
:06 seconds left pic.twitter.com/XG3VnneGFc
— Wilton C. Jackson II (@WiltonReports) November 14, 2021
Coach Prime Thanks God For Bringing Him Through The Storm
It’s been a trying few weeks for Sanders, as he was released from the hospital on Wednesday, Nov. 10, and had this to say on Friday.
“Lord thank u. I praise u for all good things & for keeping me thru all the bad. You’ve never deserted me in the midst of the storm or within full success at the mountain top. I need u i love u i adore u and i thank u. I pray this for us all. Thank u Lord.” #CoachPrime #Truth
Between Sanders’ various medical challenges and rumors of him entertaining offers from power schools, JSU has been on quite a roller coaster of emotions these past few weeks.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) November 14, 2021
The sight of Sanders in a wheel chair, weaving through his players during pregame was an immediate inspiration for the team.
The comeback win creates a firestorm of emotion for both sides.
JSU Win Marred By Brawl At Game’s End
As Shedeur took a final knee in what is known as the victory formation in football, a brawl ensued as the Tigers looked to plant their team flags into the field near the Southern logo at the 50-yard-line.
Postgame fight between Southern and Jackson State after JSU tried to plant their flag on the SU logo. @WAFB
(Disregard me hitting a 4.4 flat running to midfield) pic.twitter.com/BNzt4cInd6
— Kevin Batiste (@KBatisteJr) November 14, 2021
Following the melee, the SWAC brass issued the following statement.
“The Southwestern Athletic Conference is currently reviewing the incident which took place at the conclusion of the of the Jackson State and Southern football game. After a comprehensive review the Conference Office will make a determination regarding necessary steps in accordance with league’s constitution and bylaws. The Southwestern Athletic Conference upholds a high standard of good sportsmanship and any conduct deemed detrimental to those efforts will he handled appropriately.”
Coach Sanders also offered his apology, calling the players “idiots” for their actions.
“On behalf of Jackson State University, Coach Rollins man, I appreciate you,” Sanders began. “You’re one of the real ones, and I want to formally apologize, man.
“We acted like idiots at the conclusion of the game. The gentlemen who thought it was proper to take flags out and plant them in the middle of the field were straight idiots. I want to apologize to all the fans, all the alumni, everybody associated with the Southern Jags. Hey man, that will never happen again.”
He continued, “We’re supposed to be smart, tough, fast and disciplined. We forgot the discipline, and we forgot the character. We’ve got to learn how to win, we’ve got to learn how to live right, man. You fought us to the end, you fought us like dogs, and we’re going to return the favor with that bull junk? I want to formerly apologize Coach Rollins, I’m sorry.”
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In the end, Coach Prime and the Tigers are SWAC title game bound.
The highest-rated recruit in Jackson State history has held up his end of the deal and now all that’s left is a SWAC title and ensuing Celebration Bowl Game win over the MEAC champion.
One down and two to go.