Twenty-one unanswered points help Alabama A&M defeat Jackson State in the comeback victory
JACKSON, MS–Jackson State looked well on its way to secure its second win of the season and first in conference play but Alabama A&M scored 21-straight points and made critical stops on defense throughout the second half to defeat the Tigers 21-16 Saturday evening in the W.C. Gordon Classic.
With the win, Alabama A&M (2-3, 1-1) ended its three-game losing streak under first-year head coach Connell Maynor and won its first game in conference play. Jackson State (1-2, 0-1) suffered its first loss in conference action coming off the bye week.
The Bulldogs dominated nearly every statistical category throughout the game despite trailing for nearly three-straight quarters. A&M recorded more first downs (23-12), yards of total offense (352-242), time of possession (39:00 to 21:00) plus third down and fourth-down conversions.
The Tigers went 1-for-13 on third down and failed to convert on any of its fourth-down conversions.
JSU dominated most of the first half using a mix of run and pass from quarterback Derrick Ponder and running back Jordan Johnson, who scored the first touchdown of the game on a four-yard run to put the Tigers up 7-0.
A&M struggled to find the end zone early in their drives, mainly due to penalties (nine for 104 yards in the game) and solid defense by the Tigers.
JSU rolling early
As for JSU, the Tigers capped off a six-play 56-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal from kicker Christian Jacquemin to take a 10-0 lead.
— Jackson State U. (@JacksonStateU) September 29, 2018
With A&M failing to score, the Tigers got the ball back with good field position and scored in two plays with Johnson picking up his second touchdown of the game. The Bulldogs blocked Jacquemin’s extra point, and the Tigers led 16-0.
Tiger fans and the Sonic Boom of the South were riding high as Jackson State was in total control for the most of the second quarter until the final drive. The Bulldogs issued a heavy dose of their running game on the Tigers to get on the scoreboard with a three-yard run by Trevon Walters, the first of his two-touchdown performance.
The switch flipped
The Tigers led 16-7 at halftime, but the tide had just begun to change in favor of the Bulldogs.
In the third quarter, A&M carried over momentum from its final drive in the first half. With 10:12 to play, Bulldogs wide receiver Brian Jenkins Jr scored on an 18-yard run to cut the Tigers’ lead to 16-14. AAMU quarterback Aqeel Glass didn’t throw for any touchdowns on Saturday but he did complete 25 of 42 passes for 244 yards and an interception.
— Ala. A&M Athletics (@AAMUBulldogs) September 30, 2018
Taking over from their own 35-yard line, JSU began a drive that looked promising as Ponder ran the ball and connected with wide receiver Benjy Parrish to put the Tigers in Bulldogs’ territory.
On the next play, however, Tigers running back Keshawn Harper ran the ball down the right sideline with plenty of green grass in front of him but fumbled the ball. A&M recovered.
From there, both teams exchanged possessions as JSU fought to hold on to its 16-14 lead.
Following the exchange, the Tigers were in need of a score.
Bulldog defense starts to bite
Ponder, who was looking to help the Tigers get their first points of the third quarter, scrambled to his right with pressure from A&M defenders in front of him, looked to connect with his receiver but was picked off by a Bulldogs’ defender.
With less than five minutes left in the third quarter, A&M took over from its own 39. The Bulldogs continued its wave of solid production and capped off an eight play, 61-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 21-16 lead with 1:06 to play.
After the teams exchanged a couple of possessions with 13:05 to play in the game, JSU began another attempt to find the end zone but the Bulldogs’ defense was too much, forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs after going for it on fourth down.
A&M continued to slowly chip away at the time, using its running attack led by Walters. JSU kept A&M from scoring. With 7:24 to play, JSU failed to score on a drive where the Tigers drove all the way down to the Bulldogs 23-yard line. Hayes rolled out of the pocket and looked to connect with wide receiver Carle Ollie. Instead, it was a turnover on downs.
Neither team found the end zone in the final minutes, and the Bulldogs held on to secure the victory.
Both teams return to action on Oct. 6. The Tigers will travel to Pine Bluff, Arkansas to face the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Meanwhile, A&M prepares for another conference road test as the Bulldogs travel to Houston, Texas to face Texas Southern.