Deion Sanders, ‘Coach Prime,’ wins debut with Jackson State football

Rashad Milligan
| Mississippi Clarion Ledger


JACKSON, Miss. — Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders won his college coaching debut Sunday as Jackson State defeated NAIA opponent Edward Waters 53-0 at Mississippi Veteran Memorial Stadium.

Jackson State is playing a spring season because the Southwestern Athletic Conference moved its fall sports to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanders and the Tigers are slated to play a seven-game season, with potentially an eighth if they make it to the SWAC championship game.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

Jones gets the start: After a preseason of mystery, sophomore Jalon Jones was the first quarterback on the field for Jackson State on Sunday. For most of the day, Jones threw screen passes and short passes. He rarely pushed the ball down the field, but he also didn’t need to.

Jones did throw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Daylen Baldwin with 11 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Freshman quarterback Quincy Casey, the other quarterback in the running to start, entered the game with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. Jones and Casey alternated snaps throughout the second half. Casey threw a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

All gas, no brakes: After Jackson State scooped an Edward Waters fumble on a kickoff return with 55 seconds remaining in the first half, the Tigers marched down the field and increased the lead to 31-0 on four plays in 44 seconds.

On the first drive of the second half, Kymani Clarke scored on a 10-yard touchdown run, and the Tigers went for two. Jones rolled out and threw an incomplete pass to Kourtland Hubbard on the two-point conversion.

Cowboy surprise: Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, a former Sanders teammate from their days with the Dallas Cowboys, surprised Sanders on the field during pregame warmups. Sanders and Aikman played together from 1995-1999, and the two were on the Cowboys’ 1995 Super Bowl team.

Shutout: Jackson State’s win was the first program shutout since Sept. 6, 2014, when the Tigers beat Virginia-Lynchburg 59-0. JSU gave up a total of nine yards of offense in the first quarter.

Clarke and Newman show: Running back Kymani Clarke and wide receiver Warren Newman were all over the field as offensive weapons for Jackson State. Newman took a couple of handoffs on reverses.

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