It wasn’t a statement game. However, it was a big early-season matchup in the SWAC between Jackson State and Alabama State. Jackson State was able to pull off a huge 30-23 win in the W.C. Gorden Classic at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss.
ASU was the preseason favorite to win the SWAC Eastern Division, and it’s easy see why. The Hornets have an explosive running back in Isaiah Crowell, who happens to be one of the best in the country. Jackson State had to overcome a huge game from Crowell, who had 18 carries for 179 yards, including an 84-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers look like they have a brilliant offensive player, too. Zachary Pendleton, Jackson State’s big-play wide receiver, had six catches for 177 yards while scoring two touchdowns. Pendleton leads the conference in receiving yards per catch. He averages 30.2 yards a reception.
Tigers quarterback Clayton Moore completed 14 of 36 passes for 281 yards and had two touchdowns. In addition, Moore had 67 yards on 22 carries, including a 12-yard touchdown scamper. His ability to get the ball down the field to Pendleton makes the Tigers a dangerous team offensively.
On defense, safety Cameron Loeffler is a real hitter. Loeffler covered plenty of ground against Alabama State. He had a career-high 15 tackles against the Hornets. Jackson State (1-1 overall, 1-0 SWAC) will travel to Memphis, Tenn., to face Tennessee State (1-1) on Saturday in the Southern Heritage Classic.
TSU is coming off an impressive 27-7 victory over Florida A&M. Jackson State head coach Rick Comegy said he feels Tennessee State will be another good test for his team before they return to SWAC competition the following week against Texas Southern at home.
“No doubt, they’re talented at a high level,” Comegy said. “It will tell me where we are. I would say it would tell me where we are as a football team if we could come out of there healthy and if we can make this run down the line.”
A road win over Tennessee State should give Jackson State a lot of confidence that could take them a long way.
• Pendleton and Crowell were named the SWAC Co-Offensive Players of the Week. Pendleton was also named the W.C. Gorden Classic Offensive MVP. Crowell tied a career-high with 18 carries while setting two career records. He rushed 179 yards, the most since his arrival to ASU and his 84-yard run was also a career high. He averaged 9.9 yards a carry during the game and now has 272 yards rushing on 29 carries over the first two games of the season.
• Alabama State defensive tackle Derrick Billups was selected as the SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. Billups had a career high in tackles with 12 (four solo, eight assisted). He also had a sack, forced two fumbles, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup.
• Howard junior quarterback Greg McGhee was named the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. McGhee completed 21 of 27 passes for 242 yards with three touchdowns in Howard’s 27-16 win over Morehouse. He also rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries to help Howard get its first win of the season.
• North Carolina A&T’s senior linebacker D’Vonte Grant was chosen as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Grant returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown in the Aggies 24-21 upset win over Appalachian State. The score was his third career interception for a touchdown, tying a school record. He also had eight tackles, four solo, with one for a 2-yard loss.
Boxtorow HBCU Football Media Top 10 Poll
2. Tennessee State
4. North Carolina A&T
5. Jackson State
6. Winston-Salem State
8. Florida A&M
9. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
10. Alabama A&M