Junior running back, Carlos Stephens sprints through the open field to the end zone against the Jackson State University tigers on November 16 in Jackson, Mississippi.(Keith Lewis/DIGEST)

The Southern University Jaguars traveled to Jackson, Mississippi for a heated rivalry game and pivotal SWAC matchup against the Jackson State Tigers. Before kickoff in front of 40,085 fans at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, a pregame skirmish happened between the two teams and the game was chippy throughout. 

The Tigers settled for 3 on their first series of the game after a long run from Junior running back Keyshawn Harper, who would finish the afternoon with 208 yards rushing. Jaguars quarterback Ladarius Skelton got the ball on his first possession of the day and move down the field in seven plays ending in a Hunter Registar touchdown to put the Jags up 7-3. On Jackson State’s next possession, Tigers quarterback Jalon Jones led them down the field on a 15 play 85 yard drive that resulted in a two yard touchdown catch by DD Bowie to give the Tigers a 10-7 lead in the first. 

 In the second quarter, Jaguars kicker Cesar Barajas tied the game at 10. On the Jaguars next possession, Jaguars quarterback Ladarius Skelton, who got the job done all day on the ground with 171 yards rushing, ran for a 29 yard touchdown to put the Jags up 17-10 in the second. Jackson State’s offense looked like a machine in the second quarter, as Jones would throw his second touchdown pass to Terrell Kennedy III. A Jaguar fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Tigers great field position and Jones would find Ra’meik Wallace for his third touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 24-17 halftime lead.

After a back and forward offensive shootout in the first half, both offenses would stall on their first two drives of the second half. The first score of the second half would come from the defense of Southern in the form of a safety after a bad snap from the Jackson State long snapper. 

The Jaguars would then tally another score in the form of a rushing touchdown from Skelton to give the Jaguars a 26-24 lead in the third quarter. After a Jackson State field goal to put the Tigers up by 3, Bee Hinton would make the play of the day. His 87 yard kick return would put the Jags 33-27 and the Jaguars wouldn’t relinquish the lead. Ladarius Skelton would run for his third touchdown in the fourth quarter and would lead the Jaguars to a 40-33 victory over Jackson State. 

“When you are in these rivalry games you throw records out the window,” Jaguars head coach Dawson Odums said after the game. The Jaguars struggled to stop the rushing attack from the Tigers as they would total 308 yards on the ground. “We had a misalignment by a linebacker but we fixed that,” Southern Senior linebacker Calvin Lunkins said after the game. The adjustments made in the second half proved to be fruitful as the Jaguars outscored Jackson State 23-10 in the second half. “We wanted to play a complete game with effort and discipline lke we know how to,” said Jaguars center Jaylon Brinson. 

 For the Tigers, their hopes at a SWAC East title were crushed with the loss to the Jaguars on Saturday and they will finish the season aagainst Alcorn State on November 23rd. For the Jaguars, this win moves them to 7-4 on the season and they will touch the field in two weeks to take on the Grambling State Tigers in the Bayou Classic in New Orleans with a trip to the SWAC championship on the line. 

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