Deion Sanders, Jackson State Upset by South Carolina State in Celebration Bowl

Adam WellsDecember 18, 2021

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders walks the field during an NCAA football game against Louisiana Monroe on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Monroe, La. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
AP Photo/Matthew Hinton

Jackson State's historic 2021 season ended on a sour note with a 31-10 loss to South Carolina State in the Celebration Bowl on Saturday.

South Carolina State was playing in its first bowl game since 1997. The win is the program's first postseason victory since the 1994 Heritage Bowl against Grambling State.

The Tigers won a school-record 11 games during the regular season and won the Southwestern Athletic Conference title for the first time since 2007.

Head coach Deion Sanders started this week on a high note by flipping cornerback Travis Hunter, the top overall recruit in the 2022 class, from Florida State to Jackson State.

That momentum seemed like it was going to carry over into the Celebration Bowl. Shedeur Sanders hit Keith Corbin III for a seven-yard touchdown catch that helped give the Tigers a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Cricket Celebration Bowl @CelebrationBowl

.<a href="https://twitter.com/GoJSUTigers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GoJSUTigers</a> strikes first! <a href="https://twitter.com/theswac?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@theswac</a> Freshman of the Year Shedeur Sanders hits Keith Corbin from 7 yards out <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AChampionWillRise?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AChampionWillRise</a> <a href="https://t.co/wlDq7Qoa4x">pic.twitter.com/wlDq7Qoa4x</a>

South Carolina State responded by scoring 24 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to take a 17-point lead.

Sloppy play by Jackson State aided the Bulldogs' scoring run. Their four scoring drives, including three touchdowns, only gained a total of 76 yards. The first touchdown came after Sanders lost the ball after Patrick Godbolt sacked him at his own 8-yard line.

Shaquan Davis scored the first touchdown for South Carolina State and paid homage to Deion Sanders by doing the "Prime Time" dance in the end zone.

Cricket Celebration Bowl @CelebrationBowl

Shaquan Davis reels in a TD and then hits THE PRIME! 😮 <a href="https://t.co/GjYElBROje">pic.twitter.com/GjYElBROje</a>

Shedeur Sanders, who finished 16-of-36 for 175 yards, had all three Jackson State turnovers in the loss. He threw two interceptions deep in his own territory in the second half that led to 14 points for South Carolina State.

The freshman quarterback entered the game with just four interceptions in 11 games all season.

South Carolina State's defense was dominant in all phases. The unit held the Tigers to 19 yards rushing on 29 carries.

The Jackson State defense did its best given the circumstances the offense put it into. South Carolina State had just 268 total yards and averaged 2.8 yards per rush on 37 carries.

Quarterback Corey Fields Jr. finished 12-of-31 for 166 yards, but he threw four touchdowns.

Despite the bitter end to this season, Sanders has Jackson State trending in the right direction. He won 11 games in just his second season with the program and is getting high-level recruits to come play for him.