For about a quarter and half between the second and midway through the third quarter Saturday, it seemed like the Texas Southern University Tigers might have a chance to upset fifth-ranked and undefeated Jackson State in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Stadium.
That was the feeling anyway as quarterback Shedeur Sanders of the Jackson State Tigers was stuck in neutral.
But that all changed on a controversial personal foul on TSU linebacker Tarik Cooper with a sack on Sanders that was called a personal foul. The replays seemed to show it as a clean hit, which left the crowd booing.
JSU coach Deion Sanders said it was helmet-to-helmet contact. TSU coach Clarence McKinney didn’t want to talk about it.
“I’m not saying anything about the officiating,” McKinney said. “The officiating is what it was. There is nothing we can do about it.”
But make no mistake whether it was helmet-to-helmet or a clean hit, the personal foul seemed to change the momentum of the game. Shedeur Sanders scored a touchdown moments later to spark a 21 unanswered points run that propelled Jackson State to the 41-14 win in the SWAC cross-division showdown.
“We was gone do what we do,” said Deion Sanders, whose team moved to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the SWAC with the win. “So I don’t know about changing the momentum of the game but that was a big play.
“It was definitely helmet-to-helmet. I’m usually for the defense but that helmet-to-helmet on that one.”
But up until that play, TSU quarterback Andrew Body and the offense was moving the ball for chunks of yards and had pulled within 21-14 on Jacorey Howard’s 11-yard touchdown run with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter.
In the end, the Tigers (4-5 and 3-3) didn’t have much to show for their efforts. But despite the loss they remain very much in the hunt with Southern and Prairie View for the SWAC West Division title.
“We can’t take nothing away from them, they fought their butts off,” Deion Sanders said of TSU.