by Wesley Peterson
The Jackson State football team has taken another big step toward winning its first Southwestern Athletic Conference championship since 2007 by beating the Alcorn State Braves 37-11 on its first trip to the Alcorn State campus under head coach Rick Comegy.
With the win Comegy clinched his third SWAC Eastern title. JSU improved to 7-2 in conference play and 7-4 overall while Alcorn State fell to a 4-7overall and 4-5 conference mark.
JSU dominated Alcorn State with its rushing attack. Rakeem Sims and Tommy Gooden combined for 216 yards and three touchdowns. Sims led JSU’s ground game with 152 yards on 26 attempts. His hard-nosed running style wore down the Braves defensive front and he broke free at the 2:48 mark to score on a 46-yard run for the final touchdown of the game. Gooden added 64 yards on eight carries and scored his two touchdowns from 11 and 28 yards out.
The game was full of memorable moments for both teams. Alcorn State opened the game with and recovered an onside kick, which led to the Braves scoring their first three points of the game. The 37 yard field goal proved to the Braves only lead of the game.
On Alcorn’s first drive of the second quarter the JSU defense did its best impersonation of the Tigers 1974 goal line defensive stand against the Braves. In ’74 JSU’s defense kept Alcorn out of the end zone on a first and goal to win that game. Fast forward 38 years and the Dark Side Defense kept the Braves out of the end zone in similar fashion. With JSU hanging on to a 6-3 lead the Braves got the ball at the JSU 2-yard line on a pass interference. The Tigers forced third and goal. On fourth and goal from the JSU 7-yard line, Brandon Vessell was tripped up by Travis Woods – giving possession back to JSU.
The Tigers took a 6-3 lead into halftime. JSU opened the second half with a defensive score from offensive star Rico Richardson. The Braves were forced to punt from their own end zone and JSU’s Ryan Griffin blocked the punt and Richardson recovered it for the score. The extra point kick gave JSU a 13-3 lead.
JSU pulled away half way through the third on a pair of Gooden touchdown runs. At the 6:57 mark, JSU held a 27-3 advantage. At the 6:09 mark in the fourth quarter Ryan Deising converted a 41-yard field goal to increase the lead to 30-3. The Braves ended JSU’s scoring streak when John Gibbs and Tavoris Doss connected for a 33-yard touchdown strike to make the score 30-11.
Jackson State scored its first touchdown at 6:26 in the first when Rico Richardson hauled in a 37-yard pass from Clayton Moore.
Richardson caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. DeSuan McKenzie caught two passes for 17 yards. Clayton Moore completed 8 of 17 pass attempts for 86 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Joseph LeBeau finished with a game-high 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.
The Tigers will return to action December 8 when JSU squares off against SWAC Western Division Champion Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Kick-off is set for 1 pm.