SC State entered Saturday’s Celebration Bowl as double-digit underdogs to the masters of the SWAC, 11-2 Jackson State. But coach Buddy Pough and the Bulldogs stole the show, leaving Atlanta with a shiny new trophy as HBCU national champions and hard-earned respect in a decisive 31-10 victory.
Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders dominated the headlines heading into Saturday’s matchup. After all, the Pro Football Hall of Famer was shaking up college football, winning the SWAC Championship and signing top-line recruits. All that was left to do was close the year with a 12th win in the city where he rose to NFL stardom and claim the top spot among HBCUs. But SC State’s defense wouldn’t cooperate, limiting Coach Prime’s Tigers to 194 total yards.
SC State (7-5), fresh off claiming its 18th MEAC title, didn’t flinch despite falling behind 7-0. Quarterback Corey Fields started slowly before heating up and finding Shaq Davis (Summerville) for three touchdowns. Davis’ three TD catches set a Celebration Bowl record.
The Bulldogs defense harassed Jackson State quarterback Shadeur Sanders throughout the game and picked him off twice. The Tigers found even less success on the ground, rushing for 19 yards on 29 carries.