JACKSON, Miss. — Football is a game of inches.
And, in the case of the Bulldogs 27-20 win Saturday over Jackson State, the outcome was a matter of inches.
The Bulldogs, after rallying from a 17-0 first-half deficit, were holding a tenuous 27-20 lead with about a minute left in the game when Jackson State had a first and goal from the Bulldogs four-yard-line.
JSU’s Jairus Moll caught a pass at the 3 and headed toward the endzone. As he reached to put the ball across the goal line, he lost control of the ball and it fell into the endzone where A&M’s Dylan Hamilton fell on it.
The referees conferred for a few moments before ruling a touchback, giving the Bulldogs the ball with 1:03 left and the eventual win.
A&M came into the game with an outside chance at winning the SWAC East Division. Along with winning Saturday, the Bulldogs had to rely on Mississippi Valley State to beat Alcorn.
Unfortunately for A&M, Alcorn rolled over MVSU 61-7 to squash any chance for the Bulldogs to play in the SWAC Championship Game.
So, the Bulldogs did their part and were led by the legs of De’Angelo Ballard and Jordan Bentley.
Ballard led all rushers with 155 yards on 22 carries while Bentley rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries. Ballard was also 14-of-25 passing for 143 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Speaking of interceptions, Devonte Simon’s “pick six” tied the score at 17-17 in the second quarter, after the Bulldogs trailed 17-0 with 11:34 left in the quarter.
Simon’s interception was a reversal of fortune for the Bulldogs who were marching toward a score when Ballard was intercepted at the JSU-11 just 20 seconds earlier.
Nick Carden’s 34-yard field goal earlier in the quarter cut JSU’s lead to 17-3. Then, the Bulldogs forced the Tigers to punt and moved downfield.
Ballard found Kalias Robertson for an 11-yard touchdown pass as Robertson bulled through a trio of JSU defenders into the endzone. The Bulldogs trailed 17-10 with 4:38 left in the half.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with an eight-play, 75-yard drive capped by Harvey Harris’s five-yard touchdown run for a 24-17 lead.
After the two teams traded punts, the Tigers cut the margin to 24-20 on a 30-yard field with 2:17 to play in the third quarter.
With 1:59 to play in the game, Carden kicked a 29-yard field goal to increase A&M’s lead to 27-20.
Then, the Tigers took over on their own 35 with 1:59 left in the game.
From there, the Tigers moved downfield to the first-and-goal from the A&M 4, setting the stage for the biggest play of the game.
The Bulldogs close out their season Nov. 19 at Auburn. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.
Courtesy: AAMU Athletics