JACKSON, Miss. – Over the last two seasons the Jackson State University Tigers have been notoriously slow starters. However, JSU opened the 2010 season to a roaring good start. The Tigers defeated the Delta State University Statesmen 32-17 in the third annual W.C. Gorden Classic at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday evening.
JSU had a complete team performance- with offense, defense and special teams all contributing in the winning effort.
Defensively, JSU had dominant moments. Tim Dandridge’s performance against Delta State was an early season indicator that the Tigers defensive numbers should be near the top in the Southwestern Athletic Conference once again this season.
Dandridge, a junior defensive back, intercepted two passes and returned one for a 30-yard touchdown in front of an announced crowd of 12,655.
“We did a lot of hard work in practice and it paid off on the field,” said Dandridge.
The Tigers defense, referred to as the `Dark Side’, was a bright spot for them on Saturday. The `Dark Side’ defense is looking to improve on last season’s numbers. The Tigers (1-0, 0-0) were ranked eighth in the nation in total defense, ninth in pass efficiency, 12th in pass defense, and third in tackles for loss.
“The linebackers stepped up and the whole defense was clicking,” said Dandridge.
Delta State (0-1, 0-0) used a spread offense which was overpowered by the constant pressure applied by the Tigers defensive line throughout the game. Ryan Rich, a senior outside line backer, led the team in tackles with eight and two fumble recoveries. Besides stopping the Statesmen passing game, Dandridge assisted the rushing defense with seven tackles and one assist.
“Effort, effort, effort,” said Darrin Hayes, JSU defensive coordinator about the stellar performance on defense. “You are never beat on a play until the whistle is blown.”
Delta State used an aggressive pass attack which featured its preseason All-American running back, Trevar Deed. In the first quarter, Statesman quarterback Micah Davis threw a 30-yard pass to Trevar Deed for a touchdown. The Tigers defense only allowed Deed 39 yards on 11 carries.
When asked about stopping Deed, Dandridge said, “He is a good player. We just needed to run to the ball. You can try to get in his head. That is all you can do with a player as good as he is.”
Jackson State defense answered with a 30-yard interception touchdown by Dandridge, who was defensive player of the game.
“He is good football player,” said Hayes. “He lives up to all the ability of a Division 1A football player.”
Offensively, the `Air Raid’ offense was in full effect Saturday with the offensive player of the game JSU quarterback Casey Therriault leading the way. The junior transfer out of Grand Rapids Community College gives all the credit to good preparation and good receivers.
“We got to do what we do in practice,” Therriault said. “You just have to trust them (receivers). Whether I throw it high or low, I know they will make the catch.”
Therriault threw for 404 total yards on 27 for 47 passes with one interception. Avoiding the pass rush and making plays on the run, Therriault was referred to as the “Blue Eyed Soul Brother” by the game announcer, but became the green-eyed monster that gave the Statesmen’s secondary nightmares.
“I do not know why they were calling my eyes blue, because they are green,” said a smiling Therriault.
Marcellos Wilder, a junior wide receiver, was Terriault’s favorite target against the Statesmen. Wilder led the team in receiving with seven catches for 88 yards and one touchdown.
“This offense reminds me of the offense that I played in high school,” said Wilder. “With the offense being so wide open, it gives me and the other guys an advantage when we get one on one looks.”
Terriault distributed the ball to nine difference receivers. Anthony Mayes, a senior wide receiver, hauled in four passes for 118 yards. Renty Rollins, a junior tight end from Detroit, Michigan, caught five passes for 60 yards and one touchdown. E.J. Drewery and Keenan Tillman each caught three passes and Demario Pippen caught two passes.
“They are good at coming off the block and getting open,” said Terriault. “They have great hands and they block well.”
The `Air Raid’ show did not have many interruptions in the form of penalties. The Tigers only committed six penalties for 45 yards during the game.
“We are more focused,” said JSU head football coach Rick Comegy. “We have a `prisoner of focus’ mindset. We have great senior leadership on the field and in the locker room.”
Jackson State returns to action Saturday, Sept. 11 to take on the Tennessee State Tigers in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, TN. Kick-off is set for 4 p.m