A furious fourth quarter falls was not enough to lift TSU to victory as Jackson State was able to hang on for a 49-44 victory in the 30th edition of the Southern Heritage Classic.
Jackson State got off to the best start a team could as Josh Littles returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, putting JSU up 7-0,, with the PAT. TSU responded with a kickoff return of their own, with Chris Rowland taking the ensuing kick 96 yards to the house to knot the game at seven, with 14:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Jackson State would push their first quarter lead to 21-7 on a pair of rushing touchdowns, the first coming from 23 yards out by Derrick Ponder and the second on a 52 yard scamper from Tyson Alexander.
After TSU’s opening drive in the second quarter stalled out at their own 24 yard line, an excellent punt by Kaleb Mosley would pin JSU at their own 4. This proved to be little problem for the Jackson State offense as they marched 96 yards in 11 plays to find the end zone once more, putting them up 28-7. The newly inserted Cameron Rosendahl and the TSU offense needed just one minute to score, finding Steven Newbold in the corner of the end zone slicing the lead to 28-14 heading into the half.
TSU would cut the lead to 28-17 on a 49 yard field goal from Antonio Zita. Jackson State would go up 35-17 after DD Bowie’s 6 yard touchdown run with 8:45 to go in the third quarter. After a pass interference call moved the TSU offense into JSU territory, and DeMarco Corbin would find paydirt from 14 yards out to bring TSU to within 12 at 35-23. The subsequent 2-point conversion would fail. The JSU offense only needed eight plays to return to familiar territory, the end zone, when DD Bowie scored from 6 yards out an a reverse to make the score 42-23.
Seth Rowland’s one-yard touchdown would bring TSU within twelve at 42-30. JSU would respond with a score of their own, Derrick Ponder’s 16 yard touchdown reception, pushing their advantage back to nineteen, 49-30. TSU would keep the pressure on with Chris Rowland’s 56-yard touchdown, making the score 49-37. Steven Newbold’s second touchdown of the night, a 19 yard catch from Rosendahl, with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter to draw within five at 49-44,where the game would end.
With their victory, Jackson State snapped a six game losing streak in the Southern Heritage Classic. JSU has a week off before heading heading to Indianapolis to take on Kentucky State in the Circle City Classic September 28 with a 3 p.m. kickoff time. Tennessee State retuns to action September 21 when they will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Kickoff time is at 2 p.m.