The birth of the SWAC Championship Game

After two decades of futility in the Divsion I-AA playoffs, the decision to go to a SWAC Championship game was a bold one.

Team of The Decade

Southern and JSU were predicted to meet in the inaugural game, and sure enough, both teams ended up face-to-face at Legion Field that day. Both teams had won three SWAC titles in the 1990s and the winner would be the mythical “Team of the Decade.”

Southern (10-1) ended up there on the strength of its Dog Day Defense, while Jackson State’s (9-2) offense was potent with running back Destry Wright and receiver Sylvester Morris giving defensive coordinators fits. Southern had won four-straight over JSU, but it limped into the game beat up after needing a big comeback in the Bayou Classic two weeks prior.

Broadcast on BET and played in front of 47,621 fans, the game lived up to its billing. JSU jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first quarter, but Southern put together a two-touchdown second quarter to give itself a 17-10 lead at halftime.

The Jaguars built on their lead in the third when Terrance Levy, the second-half star of the Bayou Classic, threw an 81-yard touchdown pass to Michael Hayes to give SU a 24-10 lead heading into the final quarter. Sensing the game falling out of reach, the Tigers awoke with a fury in the final quarter, scoring 20 points as Washington threw a 40-yard pass to Lawrence Story and rushed for a one-yard score to go with two field goals to take a 30-24 lead.

Southern would respond, however, as Levy found Devin Lewis for a 26-yard touchdown pass to tie the game and Justin Mattingly’s PAT gave it a one-point edge. The third interception by defensive back Edreece Brown sealed the game, the 26th SWAC win in a row for SU and the first-ever SWAC Championship Game win.

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The birth of the SWAC Championship Game
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