Prairie View A&M fails Jackson State in SWAC title game

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Jawon Pass didn’t have his best game, and Prairie View A&M needed a big Saturday night performance from their quarterback if the Panthers were to challenge Jackson State in the SWAC Championship game.

Prairie View was competitive for one half, but Jackson State won 27-10 over the Panthers at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi. It was the ninth consecutive victory for the Tigers (11-1). More importantly, it earned JSU their first SWAC football championship in 14 years.

Jackson State prepares to take on the South Carolina State MEAC champion in the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta on December 18 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Coach Deion Sanders’ Tigers scored the last 20 points. Sanders’ son, Shedeur Sanders, staged the victory. The freshman quarterback was solid but not spectacular, passing for just 85 yards.

Peytton Pickett ran 107 yards for the Tigers, who had just three more offensive yards (233-230) and were five games shorter than the Panthers.

Jackson State had an offensive touchdown, a special teams touchdown and a defensive touchdown. A huge moment came when lineman James Houston took a Pass throw and returned it for 5 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, giving the Tigers a 20-10 lead.

The knockout was a 5-yard run from Pickett at the end of the third quarter that made it a 26-10 game. Once the Tigers got to grips with the game, it was extremely difficult to close the Panthers deficit under coach Eric Dooley.

Prairie View (7-5), winner of the West Division, ended his season with a four-game losing streak. After Luis Reyes’ 37-yard field goal, the Panthers led 10-7 with 6:38 left in the first half.

Jackson State had an open date last week and an extra week to prepare for the Panthers.

Prairie View’s defense played well. Jackson State’s offense scored just two touchdowns.

Pass completed only one of his first five passing attempts, finishing with 80 passing yards on 6 of 19 passes. Halfway through the third quarter, down 20-10, the Panthers switched quarterbacks with Trazon Connley for the remainder of the game. Connley ran for 53 yards.

In fairness to Pass, a graduate transfer from Louisville, JSU’s defense is difficult to move the ball. Led by their defense, JSU dominated the SWAC competition, going 8-0 in the league and winning the East Division.

The defense of the Tigers is elite. But on one play, Prairie View got the better of the Tigers’ high school athleticism and aggressive defense. A little trickery.

The Panthers opened the scoring on a gimmicky play, scoring a 35-yard touchdown on the fourth down on a double pass. From the quarterback position, Pass threw a back pass to Ty Holden, who completed a wide-open Jailon Howard for the score. Howard caught Holden’s ball on the 14-yard line and ran into the end zone.

Defense and special teams helped JSU’s 13-10 halftime lead. Florida State transfer Isaiah Bolden returned a 91-yard second-quarter kickoff for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 13-10 lead.

Darius Campbell had an interception in the end zone for the Panthers. Campbell edged Keith Corbin III for the ball, keeping the score at 7 with 10:55 left in the second quarter.

With his best receiver, Antonio Mullins, limited by injury, Howard has become the Panthers’ favorite guy. In the first half, Howard had an incredible 43-yard catch in his four-catch, 93-yard game.

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