Deion Sanders won his first game in Southwestern Athletic Conference play as Jackson State football snapped a five-game losing streak against Grambling State in a 33-28 win Saturdayat Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium in Louisiana.
Jackson State (2-0, 1-0 SWAC) defeated Grambling State (0-1, 0-1) for the first time since winning the SWAC East Division in 2012.
Sanders, an NFL Hall of Famer, is in his first season as coach. For his debut Feb. 21, former Dallas Cowboys teammate Troy Aikman surprised him and joined him on the field for the game.
Observations from a wild game:
A tale of two fumbles
Jackson State fumbled what should have been a game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter, only to return the favor by forcing a Keilon Elder fumble at the JSU 1-yard line with 1:04 to play.
Alexander runs over Grambling State
JSU balanced the run and pass for 20 unanswered points before halftime. After falling behind by a touchdown, Jalon Jones finished a nine-play, 67-yard drive with a 4-yard scramble to the end zone. A pass from Jones to Daylen Baldwin turned into a 64-yard score when a GSU defender slipped in man coverage.
Tyson Alexander ran through the Tigers for a 33-yard touchdown with five minutes remaining until halftime.
Alexander ran for a game-high 184 yards on 17 carries. A GSU defense that led the SWAC in scoring defense last season allowed 296 yards rushing and 6.3 yards per carry.
Despite the lopsided totals, the Tigers forced two turnovers and recovered Alexander’s end-zone fumble for a touchback with 4:52 to go. The play was upheld after review.
Hickbottom shines for GSU
Geremy Hickbottom left little doubt who GSU’s best option is at quarterback. His 15-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Clark pulled Grambling State within six points in the third quarter.
Hickbottom completed 24 of 35 passes for 237 yards and one touchdown. He led GSU with 81 yards and a score on 16 carries.
After directing back-to-back touchdown drives for a 14-7 lead, the offense stalled after Elijah Walker spelled Hickbottom in the second quarter. The Tigers went three-and-out on three consecutive possessions, and JSU came away with touchdowns and a 27-14 halftime lead.