Jackson State football crushed by South Carolina State in Celebration Bowl: Our top takeaways

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ATLANTA — Shaquan Davis broke out Deion Sanders’ signature touchdown celebration dance in the first half after he tied the game with his first touchdown.

It was a signal of confidence from the MEAC champion Bulldogs, who didn’t back down one bit from the spotlight surrounding the Cricket Celebration Bowl this week.

South Carolina State, the winningest program in MEAC history in terms of conference titles with 18, pulled off a stunning 31-10 upset of Jackson State in the very building where Sanders resides as a member of the Falcons ring of honor.

It’s the first HBCU national title since 2009 for the Bulldogs. And it’s the first Celebration Bowl loss for Jackson State, whose last HBCU national title was in 2007.

The South Carolina State defense stole the show by shutting down SWAC freshman of the year Shedeur Sanders, forcing multiple red-zone turnovers from the JSU quarterback.

Here are three observations from the game:

Red-zone turnovers doom Jackson State

It wasn’t just that the Jackson State offense made mistakes, it was where they made the mistakes.

Late in the second quarter Shedeur Sanders fumbled on the Jackson State three-yard line, setting up Davis’ first touchdown. Then he had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage, resulting in an interception that gave South Carolina State 1st and goal on the 10 yard line at the beginning of the third quarter.

But, the blame doesn’t lie entirely with the freshman quarterback, who was under tremendous pressure from the South Carolina State defensive line most of the game. The Jackson State run-game rendered the offense completely one-dimensional, totaling 16 yards on carries. And the offensive line allowed Sanders to be sacked x times and hurried x times.

Shaquan Davis does Deion Sanders’ dance, sets Celebration Bowl record

Shaquan Davis and his 6-foot-5 frame as a big redzone target proved to be the difference in the game. He grabbed three short touchdowns that swung the momentum in favor of South Carolina State. The three touchdown catches are the most in Celebration Bowl history.

But, perhaps even more notable than the scores was Davis’ boldness to use Sanders’ signature touchdown celebration with the coach watching on the sidelines as South Carolina State proceeded to put his team away.

MEAC continues Celebration Bowl dominance

With the loss, SWAC teams are now 1-5 in the Celebration Bowl.

Coming into the game, it appeared that this year would be a strong chance for the SWAC to improve that dreadful record. North Carolina A&T, which won four Celebration Bowls, left the MEAC for the Big South conference. Jackson State won 11 games for the first time ever.

But this Saturday’s game shows that the SWAC champions, even this year’s much-hyped Jackson State team, have continued to struggle against the MEAC champions on a consistent basis since the game was established in 2015.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Deion Sanders, Jackson State crushed by South Carolina State in Atlanta

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