For the first quarter of the game Bethune-Cookman looked ready to spoil the day for interim coach Gary Harrell and Jackson State University. In the second quarter Malachi Wideman decided he was going to have a day and the Tigers didn’t look back. Jackson State (6-1) played a stellar two and a half quarters en route to a 42-12 win over Bethune-Cookman (0-8).
After trading a few punts to open the game, BCU got on the board first with a 29-yard precision touchdown pass. Shannon Patrick found a well covered Dylaan Lee in stride in the end zone to go up 6-0. The extra point was blocked. Bethune-Cookman kept the momentum going with a 32-yard field goal from Marcos Gamboa to go up 9-0. The Wildcats didn’t seem bothered at all by the vaunted JSU defense.
Then the Shedeur Sanders and Malachi Wideman tag team party got things rolling in the second quarter.
The Tigers scored their first points when Sanders found Wideman for a 28 yard score to pull within two points at the 9:53 mark. On the ensuing possession Sanders took things into his own hands, or feet, rushing up the middle untouched for a 17-yard score. That rushing TD put JSU up 14-9 and it would never trail again.
Just before the half Sanders connected with Wideman for a four yard score. The Tigers went into the half leading 21-9. That scoring drive was setup by a spectacular Shilo Sanders’ interception return. Sanders returned the pick 55 yards with a couple of nifty shakes that nearly resulted in a touchdown.
Jackson State opened up the third quarter with a haymaker to dispel any thoughts of a comeback. Isaiah Bolden took the opening kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown to put Jackson State up 28-9.
Later in the quarter Sanders found Wideman for his third touchdown of the day, a 39-yarder to eventually put JSU up 35-12.
Wideman, the transfer from Tennessee, caught his fourth touchdown of the day with 6:25 remaining. Shedeur Sanders connected with a streaking Wideman for a 23 yard touchdown. The PAT put Jackson State up 42-12.
Jackson State despite the slow start seemed to function exactly as it would had Deion Sanders been on the sidelines. JSU was consistently aggressive, often going for it on fourth downs. During the week Harrell insisted that the Tigers wouldn’t do anything differently during the game despite missing its head coach. The win gives Jackson State its best start in the SWAC in a full decade.
Wideman finished the day with nine catches for 169 yards and four touchdowns. Shedeur Sanders was 18-25 passing for 309 yards, with a rushing touchdown and four through the air. Sanders finished with a 228.6 quarterback rating.