Jackson State football squeezes past FAMU, 7-6, to open Season 2 under Deion Sanders

by 24USATVSept. 6, 2021, 6 a.m. 25
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Jackson State football team used a fourth-down sack in the final seconds to open Season Two of the Deion Sanders era with a victory in the Orange Blossom Classic.

Cam'Ron Silmon sacked quarterback Junior Muratovic as the Tigers squeezed out a 7-6 win over Florida A&M on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

Here are the top takeaways from the victory.

JACKSON STATE FOOTBALL GRADES:Deion Sanders' Tigers get solid marks in win over Florida A&M

SEC TO SWAC:Jackson State football debut a homecoming for Florida transfer recruited by Deion Sanders

All eyes were on JSU freshman quarterback Shedeur Sanders in his college football debut.

Sanders, a four-star recruit and the son of Deion Sanders, had and up-and-down day that included three first-half turnovers but also plenty of flashes that made him the Tigers' second-highest rated recruit in program history.

Sanders, who was 18-for-24 for 221 yards, had a 32-yard completion to Trevonte Rucker in the second quarter as FAMU linebacker Nadarius Fagan hit Sanders and got tagged with a targeting foul.

The completion and penalty set JSU up inside the the Rattlers' 5-yard line, and the drive ended with Sanders sneaking into the end zone for the only touchdown of the game.

Jackson State's roster overhaul in the offseason included signing the highest-rated recruiting class in FCS and HBCU history and also mining the transfer portal for upgrades.

The transfers paid off for the Tigers on Sunday, and so did a few others.

Tennessee transfer Nyles Gaddy (2 tackles, 1 TFL) and Georgia Tech transfer Antwan Owens (3 tackles, 1 TFL) made their presence felt in the FAMU backfield, and South Carolina transfer Shilo Sanders (7 tackles) had a hard hit in midfield to end a Rattlers' first-half drive.

Silmon, who had the game-sealing sack, had seven tackles. Aubrey Miller Jr. led the Tigers with nine tackles, including a sack.

JSU (1-0, 1-0 SWAC) limited FAMU (0-1, 0-1) to 235 total yards and recovered three fumbles. It was the FAMU's first game as a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Jackson State kicker Bailey Raborn booted a 20-yard punt out of bounds at the end of JSU's first drive. Warren Newman returned a punt 44 yards to get Jackson State to FAMU's 10-yard line. Raborn missed a 32-yard field goal for a chance to tie the score 3-3 early on.

Such was the day for the Tigers' special teams units.

Sophomore Anthony Petty preserved the Tigers' lead, and perhaps the win, in the first half when he blocked Jose Romo-Martinez's 48-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the second quarter.

The first drive of Shedeur Sanders' career was in rainy conditions with the roof retracted at Hard Rock Stadium. He fumbled his first snap before recovering and being tackled for a loss.

The weather contributed to the end of the drive, with a dropped pass by receiver Rucker. When the weather improved on the next possession, Sanders completed the first pass of his career – a 19-yard strike to Alabama transfer Josh Lanier.

FAMU didn't announce a starting quarterback before Sunday. Junior Rasean McKay played the first three quarters before freshman Muratovic took over in the final quarter.

McKay finished 18-for-29 for 78 yards, and Muratovic finished 5-for-11 for 47 yards.

Contact Rashad Milligan at 601-862-6198 or [email protected] Follow @RashadMilligan on Twitter.

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