Coming into the 2021 Celebration Bowl, Jackson State had all the momentum and more. This week they created an earthquake size shift in college football when the #1 player in this years recruiting class, 5-star DB/WR Travis Hunter, decided to sign to Deion Sanders and the Tigers. It was an unbelievable moment that was going to have championship icing added on top once Jackson State took care of business in the 6th annual Celebration Bowl, but the icing will have to wait until next year.
South Carolina State Bulldogs came into the HBCU National Championship game with a record of 6-5 and a huge underdog sign written all over them. That thought has quickly been erased.
South Carolina State stuns Jackson State in a 31-10 route in Atlanta, Georgia. Jackson State scored the first touchdown of the game early in the first quarter, but after that it was a one sided affair. The dogs went on a 31-3 run lead by their stifling defense and big play receivers.
The defense for the Bulldogs are lead by their NFL Draft prospect, cornerback Decobie Durant. The defense played fast and physical all game and used a game plan that highlighted a weakness in Jackson State’s potent offense.
The Bulldogs made it a priority early on to stop Jackson State from running the ball. The Tigers were only able to gain 19 yards on the ground on 29 carries; less than a yard per carry. With the run defense stopping everything coming through the trenches, Jackson State had to put the game on the shoulders of their freshman quarterback, Shedeur Sanders.
Early on when the Tigers were having a hard time getting the run game going, the Tigers started to throw the ball to get the defense to respect the pass so that the run game might open up later. This switch by Jackson State played into the hands of the Bulldogs defense as they are one of the best secondaries in all of HBCU Football. Two of their defensive backs hold 3 interceptions a piece.
As the game plan for the Bulldogs started to unfold into the right direction, Shedeur Sanders showed one of the biggest weaknesses to his game just 3 minutes in. Sanders has had a hard time rolling left and throwing the ball when pressured right. Almost every pass thrown by Sanders when he rolls to his left is inaccurate, has little to no velocity, and comes out wobbly. Sanders also has a long release that can become a liability when pressured like today. Many of his passes were either tipped or released at the wrong time in his throwing motion which lead to inaccurate passes and eventually interceptions. Sanders was picked 3 times today and gave up a costly fumble that put the Tigers defense on their own side of the 50.
As good as the Jackson State defense has played all year, it would not mattering in this game today because they were playing with their backs against their own goal line most of the game. SC State sophomore quarterback Corey Fields took advantage of the great field position and went to work on Deion Sanders secondary. Corey threw 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Most of the touchdowns were thrown to the 6’5 sophomore receiver Shaquan Davis; the offensive player of the game.
Davis was a complete mismatch all day. The Bulldogs took advantage of the height difference and put the ball into places were only Davis could catch the ball cleanly. Davis would go on to finish with 5 receptions for 95 yards and 3 touchdownsThis game came down to field position and a game plan the exposed a few weakness in the Jackson State offense.