Deion Sanders, the Hall of Fame NFL cornerback turned HBCU head coach, helped his Jackson State Tigers win the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship Saturday (Dec. 4) 27-10 over the Prairie View A&M Panthers at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi.
The victory helped Jackson State earn its first conference championship since 2007 and it capped off the school’s first-ever 11-win season.
The Panthers led 10-7 in the second quarter but a 91 yard kick return by junior Isaiah Bolden seemed to change the tide for the Tigers. Jackson State scored 14 unanswered points in the second half, including a pick-six by senior linebacker James Houston and a 5-yard rushing score by senior running back Peytton Pickett.
Shedeur Sanders, Deion’s son, plays quarterback for the Tigers. The SWAC freshman of the year finished the game with eight completions for 85 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“This is unbelievable,” Sanders told the Associated Press after the game. “We didn’t play best, but all our kids gave it our best. It’s one thing to win, but to win without me? Lord, I thank you.”
Coach Prime, as he’s affectionately called by his players, missed three games this season after a toe surgery kept him hospitalized for nearly a month. He used a motorized wheelchair upon his return, but ditched it for a scooter for the SWAC championship game. Sanders has led a remarkable turnaround for the Jackson State football program that went 18-37 in five seasons prior to his arrival. The Tigers are 14-4 since Coach Prime took the reigns and now they’re headed to The Celebration Bowl for the first time in school history.
“We’ve got to finish what we’ve started,” Sanders told AP. “This journey that we’re on, we’ve got to finish it.”
The Jackson State Tigers will face Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) champion South Carolina State on Dec. 18 in Atlanta for the Black college national championship. The championship will air on ABC live from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
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