Photo: JSU Athletics

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Jackson State gashed Tennessee State for 338 yards on the ground and rolled to a 49-44 win at the 30th Southern Heritage Classic at the Liberty Bowl.

The 49 points were the most points by Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic and ended a six-game losing streak in the series to TSU.

“I’m very proud of this team,” JSU head coach John Hendrick said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we did not give up and left it all on the field. We faced adversity and responded in a positive manner. We’ll enjoy this win and take a week off, get better, and get ready for Kentucky State in the Circle City Classic.”

The first quarter started off with a bang. Josh Littles took the opening kickoff back 100 yards, however, TSU responded with a 96-yard kickoff return of its own to knot the game at 7-7.

The Tigers’ remaining touchdowns in the first half were via the ground game.

Facing a third and long, the Tigers dialed up a designed quarterback draw and Derrick Ponder scampered for a 23-yard touchdown – untouched – as the momentum began to swing in favor of the Blue & White.

With 1:08 remaining in the first quarter, Tyson Alexander scored on a 52-yard touchdown and JSU led 21-7.

Jordan Johnson, who rushed for a game-high 141 yards and was named Southern Heritage Classic MVP, scored from four yards out with 1:18 remaining in the half. TSU scored in the waning moments of the half and JSU led 28-17 at the break.

The halftime didn’t cool the offenses for either team.

TSU opened the third quarter with a field goal and JSU countered with a five-play, 39-yard drive that ended with a DD Bowie six-yard touchdown off an end-around.

Bowie scored JSU’s next touchdown, also a six-yard rush, but on a reverse to open a 42-30 lead.

The Tigers final scoring drive of the game took 5:38 off the clock and Ponder found tight end Kyland Richey on a 16-yard pitch and catch.

Keshawn Harper finished with 71 yards on seven carries from an average of 7.9 yards per attempt.

All-American linebacker Keonte Hampton finished with a game-high nine tackles and added a sack. Tyler Rogers notched six stops and one sack.


  • The 49 point was the most points scored in a win since Sept. 6, 2014, when JSU defeated Virginia Lynchburg 59-0
  • Jordan Johnson collected MVP honors for his 141-yard, one-touchdown effort
  • JSU won the possession battle 33:51 to 26:09
  • The Blue & White was 10-of-14 on third down
  • Neither team committed a turnover

Up next: JSU enters a bye week.

Courtesy: JSU Athletics


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