With an opportunity to win the SWAC West and return to the SWAC Championship game, 68,314 spectators left the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA stunned. The 46th Annual Bayou Classic was definitely one to remember.
After the opening 15 minutes, the fans in black and gold were already planning the post-game celebration. The Jaguars started off the game having issues getting into an offensive rhythm, while the Tigers jumped to an early 21-3 lead. However, Head Coach Dawson Odoms and the Jags didn’t sit on their hands. Late in the first quarter, LaDarius Skelton threw a rocket to wideout Cameron Mackey, putting the Jags deep into Grambling territory. Two plays later, Skelton found a wide open Hunter Register for a three yard touchdown they desperately needed.
On 3rd & 11 with under a minute left until halftime, the Jaguar defense stopped the Tigers, forcing them to kick a long 46 yard field goal. Kicker Miguel Mendez missed the kick wide right, which gave the Jags the opportunity to close in on the eleven point deficit. Hunter Register caught a contested 37 yard reception inside the 15 yard line, giving the Jags a lot of momentum and great field position. An offsides penalty by Grambling on the one yard line gave the Jags one more chance to score right before halftime with only one second left on the clock. Running back Devon Benn ran into the endzone, cutting the Grambling lead to only four points, ending the second quarter with momentum shifted on their side.
In the third quarter the Jaguar defense contained the Tigers on defense, which allowed the offense to take their first lead of the game late in the third quarter 21-24 via Register’s second touchdown reception.
Coach Dawson Odums was very expressive about the team’s emotional response in the second half. “You saw the emotion and that really took the swing in the game, we went up 24-21 and then they went right back ahead. I really thought the two blocked field goals were the deciding factor of the game”.
With the offense scoring 21 unanswered points since the last second touchdown in the second quarter, at the start of the 4th quarter the Tigers started to claw back themselves with Hickbottom walked into the endzone to give the Tigers back the lead 28-24. Not to get raddled the Jags quickly answered back after a pass interference call on the Tigers defensive back Tre’von Cherry putting the Jags in the red zone, on the next play Jarod Sims rushed into the endzone with ease giving the Jags back the lead; but the extra point was missed so the Jags would have to secure their two point lead 28-30.
With the game nearing the end, it got tighter than a belt on Thanksgiving, as it all came down to the Tigers kicking a field goal to punch their ticket to the SWAC Championship and to win the Bayou Classic.
After Coach Dawson Odoms used his last two timeouts trying to “ice” the kicker, Miguel Mendez got into position to try and send the Tigers off to Lorman, Mississippi for the SWAC Championship game. Then God answered all of Jaguar Nation’s prayers when defensive linemen Joe Davis blocked Miguel Mendez’s possible game winning field goal sealing the huge win for the Jaguars.
Coach Dawson Odums felt that the team willed themselves to victory, “Our team played and they believed and that belief has to come from somewhere, we play hard, and we make games tough”. Safety Jakoby Pappillion said that earlier in the week the Jaguars worked on blocking kicks, and when regarding the huge comeback down 21-3 Pappillion said that “ We had to persevere, we had to come together as a defense and put our foot down and play football”.
The Jaguars will return to the SWAC Championship game in back to back seasons and just like last season, the Jaguars will play rival the Alcorn Braves back in Lorman, Mississippi looking for revenge for the 2018-2019 SWAC Championship lose 28-37. SWAC Championship game is on Saturday December 7, 2019 @3pm.