Pitting blluebloods Jackson State and FAMU agssinst one another he Orange Blossom Classic was supposed to be the crown jwewl od Week 1 of HBCU football. Takinginto amount the 7-6 defensive slugfest won black Jackson State in last year’s contest, combined with the fact two teams separated themselves as the creme de la creme of the SWAC as the season went along ( JSU advancing to the Celebration Bowl and FAMU making the playoffs), the anticipation for this matchup had been building since the schedule rebased earlier this summer.
Then the game took place and, unfortunately the 2022 Orange Blossom Classic turned out to be the latest instance of the substance not living up to the hype as Jackson State took FAMU to the woodshed, 59-3.
Sheduer Sanders showed why he was voted Southwestern Athletic Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and 1st Team All-SWAC by putting on a clinical dissection of the FAMU defense in front of a national audience, Sanders completed his first 17 passes ( he threw his first incompletion with 7:36 to go in the first half, pass that should have been caught) on the way to 29/33 for 323 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Jackson State came out and got right to work, marking down the field on an 8lpay, 69-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard pass from Sanders to Shane Hooks to put the Tigers up 7-0.
Unfortunately for the Rattlers, once the scoring started this is the closest they would ever be,
The Florida A&M offense could never find any continuity, quarterback Jeremy Moussa never looked comfortable, due to the efforts of the JSU defense , and it showed. The Rattlers did not record their initial first down in the game until 3:44 left in the first quarter.
While Rattlers defense struggled mightily, the Jackson State offense, hummed along, aided in part by the mystifying refusal of FAMU to play anything other than a base defense, giving Shedeur Sanders all the time in the world to carve up their defense like a Thanksgiving turkey. Jackson State scored 21 unanswred points to begin the game before Florida A&M;s Jose Romo-Martinez booted a 43-yard field goal through the uprights late in the second quarter, which would be their only points on the day.
Down 24-3 at the half, the competitive portion of this game ended in the third quarter, when Jackson State came right out and put another 7 on the boards, with another Sanders touchdown pass,this one a ten-yarder to Hooks, making the score 31-3. The Jackons State defense got in on the scoring with a 35-yard pick-six from Ke’Vric Wiggins later in the quarter to push the score to 38-3, and the rout was really on. Jackson State was not done yet, tacking on another score with Sanders’ with scoring pass of the day , this one of 2-yards to Hayden Hagler to push the score to 45-3 at the end of three quarters .
Even if Jackson State wanted to pack it in and end the scoring for the day, the FAMU offense and special teams was bound and determined to not allow that. A FAMU fumbled was picked up by Aubrey Miller for the 19-yard scoop-and score to push the blowout to the realm of absurdity at 52-3. Later in the quarter a blacked punt was run in by Herman Smith from 17-yards out to push the score to 59-3.
Jackson State accumulated 471 yards of total offense to just 155 for FAMU, including just 28 yards rushing to JSU’s 139. ; Santi Marshall’s 65 yards more than doubled the output of the entire Florida A&M run game.
Up next fur Jackson State is a trip to Memphis to face the Tigers of Tennessee State in the Southern Hertage Classic. Jackson State claimed a 38-16 win in last year’s contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm CST.
The Rattlers return to the friendly confines of Bragg Memorial Stadium where they will host defending SIAC Champions, Albany State, with kickoff set for 6:00pm EST. The two schools have not faced off since 1993.