MOBILE, Ala. – Jackson State proved it belonged.
On the road and playing an opponent from the FBS, the Tigers played with the Jaguars from the opening kickoff until the final seconds melted off the clock.
South Alabama needed a huge second half to escape JSU 37-14.
USA scored on its first possession of the game, but JSU countered with a drive of its own.
The JSU offense orchestrated an 11-play, 75-yard drive that finished with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Derrick Ponder to Warren Newman.
The Jaguars added two more scores (failed on both extra-point attempts) and went into halftime with a 19-7 advantage.
USA outscored JSU 18-7 in the second half to close out the contest.
Mobile native Keshawn Harper ran with pride and gutted the Jaguars for 77 yards on 10 carries, which accounted for 7.5 yards per carry.
True freshman Tyson Alexander rushed for 44 yards and scored his first-career touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard dash down the USA sideline.
One of JSU’s goals was to limit USA dual-threat quarterback Cephus Johnson and for the most part, did.
Johnson, who accounted for over 250 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns last week at Nebraska, was held to 150 yards and turned the ball over twice.
JSU’s defense forced three turnovers. CJ Holmes and Tenoa Alex each recorded an interception. Alex also forced a fumble and Jakaiszer Glass recovered it.
All-American linebacker Keonte Hampton finished with a game-high 15 tackles. Tyler Rogers added 10 stops and Quedarrion Barnett made seven tackles.
The Tigers make their return to the Southern Heritage Classic and match-up with rival Tennessee State from the Liberty Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Courtesy: JSU Athletics