As Coach Prime rumors swirl, Jackson St. routs Southern in SWAC title game

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, seen here in an earlier game, apparently has led his...
Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, seen here in an earlier game, apparently has led his Tigers to victory for the final time Saturday, as JSU won 43-24 over the Southern Jaguars in the SWAC championship game. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)(Lynne Sladky | AP)
Published: Dec. 3, 2022 at 9:42 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Shedeur Sanders threw for four touchdowns, including two on three first-quarter turnovers, staking Jackson State to a big early lead on the way to routing Southern 43-24 in Saturday’s Southwest Athletic Conference championship that was possibly Deion Sanders’ final game as Tigers coach.

Reports swirled before the game that Sanders would announce his departure from the FCS program after three seasons to become head coach at the University of Colorado.

Sanders acknowledged an offer from the school earlier this week and added that he had talked to other FBS programs about vacancies. Colorado’s board of regents called a special meeting for Sunday but hasn’t commented on any candidates taking over the Buffaloes.

Neither Sanders nor JSU spoke to reporters afterward. A SWAC spokesman said the team had proceeded to go to campus for a team meeting.

In an on-field interview played over JSU’s home field public address system, Sanders referred to JSU’s upcoming Celebration Bowl appearance and said, “We still have one more to go, and we will finish.”

JSU (12-0) quashed any questions about Sanders’ future being a distraction by completing the first unbeaten regular season in school history and claiming its second consecutive SWAC championship. The Tigers’ top-ranked defense set the tone by quickly pouncing on the Jaguars for three turnovers in eight plays in the first quarter.

Shedeur Sanders, the Hall of Fame coach’s son, and the Tigers easily converted the takeaways into a 26-0 lead after 15 minutes, a run boosted by Sy’veon Wilkerson’s 1-yard TD run two plays after Herman Smith III’s 37-yard interception return. Two fumbles created chances for Sanders to hit Shane Hooks for TD passes of 14 and 40 yards and two-point conversions to Kevin Coleman Jr.

Sanders’ 14-yard TD pass to Coleman made it 33-7 at halftime, but Southern (7-5) didn’t quit and even got within 36-24 late in the in third quarter on Glendon McDaniel’s 42-yard TD run.

Sanders, the SWAC’s offensive player of the year, completed 31-of 44-passes for 305 yards. Hooks caught five passes for 98 yards and Wilkerson rushed 15 times for 61 yards.

McDaniel was 15 of 34 passing for 220 yards and a TD for Southern.

“I thought Glendon did some great things,” Southern coach Eric Dooley said.

The Tigers advanced to the Celebration Bowl, the championship for historically Black college football, on Dec. 17 in Atlanta against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion North Carolina Central.

The Tigers’ victory improved Sanders to 27-5 as coach of the FCS program and came days after he was named SWAC ‘Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

The Takeaway

Southern: The Jaguars mounted a strong second-half offensive effort behind Glendon McDaniel, but JSU’s initial onslaught on both sides of the ball was too much to handle.

Jackson State: The Tigers put together one of the most dominant seasons in school history, with the SWAC’s top defense and offense. Both units proved why, as the defense overwhelmed the Jaguars from the start, while Sanders took advantage of short fields to complete pinpoint throws from clean pockets.

Up Next

Jackson State faces North Carolina Central in the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17 in Atlanta.

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AP college football:

https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.

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