ATLANTA — Cory Fields threw for four touchdowns, three to Shaquan Davis, to lead South Carolina State to a stunning 31-10 victory over Jackson State in the Celebration Bowl on Saturday in a game considered to be the national championship of historically Black colleges and universities.
It marks the first time the Bulldogs (7-5) has topped the HBCUs since 2009. Jackson State (11-2) hasn’t won the title since 1996.
The game was dominated by defenses, as South Carolina State limited Jackson State to just 194 yards of total offense, a record for the Celebration Bowl, which began in 2015. The Bulldogs scored their first three touchdowns shortly after turnovers by Jackson State (11-2) gave South Carolina State the ball in the red zone, at the Jackson State 5-, 16-, and 19-yard lines.
Those three turnovers were by freshman quarterback Shedeur Sanders, son of head coach Deion Sanders. He threw two interceptions, one of which glanced off the hands of a receiver, and lost a fumble when sacked.
South Carolina State, champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, entered the game in Mercedes Benz Stadium as underdogs. Jackson State had rolled into the contest with just one loss, but the champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference never got going.
Midway through the second quarter, South Carolina State defensive end Patrick Godbolt sacked Sanders and forced a fumble. Linebacker BJ Davis recovered to set the Bulldogs up at the Jacksonville State 5-yard line. Three plays later, Fields hit Davis over the middle for a touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.
Davis, a native of Summerville, South Carolina, delivered a celebratory dance in the end zone that was a perfect imitation of those Deion Sanders performed many times after he made big plays as a defensive back with the Atlanta Falcons from 1989-93.
The Bulldogs took a 10-7 lead on Gavyn Zimmerman’s 26-yard field goal shortly before halftime and pulled away in the second half.
Sanders had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage early in the third quarter, resulting in an interception that gave South Carolina State first-and-goal on the 10-yard line. South Carolina State later cashed in after interceptions by defensive back Kendall Moultrie and linebacker Aaron Smith.
Fields also hit wide receiver Richard Bailey for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs were led defensively by BJ Davis, who had nine tackles, and Godbolt, who had five tackles, three quarterback hurries, one pass breakup and 1.5 tackles for lost yardage.
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