ITTA BENA, Miss. — It was special.
About 20 years special.
Mississippi Valley State defeated rival Jackson State, 27-23, on Saturday at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium to defeat the Tigers on their homecoming and give new MVSU head coach Rick Comegy his first SWAC victory, ending a 19-game, 20-year drought for Valley against JSU.
It marked MVSU’s first win over the Tigers since 1984 when Valley upended its rival 18-16 under the direction of then-head coach Larry Dorsey.
And what made it even more special was the way that the Delta Devils put the exclamation point on the victory. Down 23-20 with more than six minutes to play, Valley converted a fourth down with a 36-yard touchdown strike from Quantavius Peterson to Joshua Rice, the nephew of former MVSU and NFL great Jerry Rice, that proved to be the game-winning score.
It marked the first touchdown of his career for the redshirt freshman from Starkville, Miss., capping off a 10-play, 52-yard drive that lasted a little more than four minutes.
On the ensuing drive, MVSU’s defense made the biggest stop of the season. JSU quarterback La’Montiez Ivy completed a five-yard pass to Jairus Moll on first down but his next two passes were incomplete. Then, on fourth down, he was sacked by Khalil Young and Sean Fugate to seal a Valley win, that sent the MVSU crowd into a frenzy.
Rice had a career high five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in a game that he likely will remember for the rest of his life. And despite what some may think, this win wasn’t all personal for Comegy, who returned to a place where he coaches for the last eight seasons.
“I’m happy for our players, our coaching staff and especially our fans,” said MVSU head coach Rick Comegy. “It wasn’t all about me coming back here, it was about getting this win for the Valley family. I’m glad I could help bring a smile to their faces. That’s what it’s all about.”
MVSU struck first in the game with a 44-yard field goal by Cherchen Galon, which capped off a seven-play, 59-yard drive. But the Tigers started to gain momentum in the second quarter, scoring 14 points on a 9-yard run by Jarius Moore and a 35-yard touchdown reception by Jairus Moll.
Right before halftime, Valley was able to capitalize with another field goal that cut JSU’s lead to one possession, 14-6.
JSU made one of its three second half field goals early in the third quarter — this one from 24 yards — to take a 17-6 lead over the Delta Devils. But, Valley struck back midway through the third quarter when they replaced starting quarterback Patrick Ivy with Quantavius Peterson, a transfer from Coahoma Community College. He engineered a three-play, 17-yard scoring drive following a JSU fumble to cut the lead to 17-13.
Afterwards, MVSU limited the Tigers to just six fourth quarter points — a pair of field goals. MVSU’s Jeremy Dobson, who replaced an injured Jerrell Moore, had a 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The redshirt sophomore from Jackson finished with 17 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Peterson finished 8-of-12 through the air for 73 yards along with 57 yards on the ground. He combined for two touchdowns — one on the air and another on the ground.
Julian Stafford led the team in receptions (nine) and Trey Ford chipped in two catches for 29 yards.
Defensively, Khalil Young had one of the best outings of his career with four tackles, 2.5 sacks and a pass breakup. As a team, Valley had five sacks.