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Stan Becton | | September 4, 2022

How Jackson State dominated Florida A&M 59-3 to win 2022 Orange Blossom Classic

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Jackson State defeated SWAC East foe Florida A&M in dominant fashion, winning 59-3.

The Tigers were in control of this game from the very start, led by quarterback Shedeur Sanders' near-perfect game. Sanders completed his first 17 passes of the game, throwing three touchdowns in the process. He finished the first half 18-20 through the air for 170 yards and three touchdowns, finding nine different receivers.

When the Rattlers finally forced Sanders to throw an incompletion, it was reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner Isaiah Land applying pressure. The very next play Land notched his first sack of the season, taking down Sanders for a 10-yard loss. Sanders' second incompletion was from a drop.

In the first half, Jackson State jumped out to a 24-0 lead before Florida A&M finally got on the board with a 43-yard field goal before the end of the half. The three points were a glimpse of hope for the Rattlers as quarterback Jeremy Moussa struggled mightily to open his second start, going 6-15 passing (40%) for 50 yards, with 32 yards coming from one play in the first half. Moussa had no first-half help from his rushing attack which only gained nine yards on 15 attempts — a 1.6 yards per carry average.

The second half was much of the same as Jackson State continued its domination. 

Sanders threw two more touchdowns in the second half to set a new all-time Jackson State single-game passing touchdown record. He finished the game completing 29 of 33 passes — to 11 different wide receivers — for 323 yards and five touchdowns. He added another 17 yards on the ground as the Tiger offense remained balanced throughout the day, rushing for 139 yards on 35 carries.

Jackson State's defense continued its second-half terror, scoring two touchdowns of its own on an interception and fumble return, respectively. In total, the Tiger defense had two interceptions and two forced fumbles and recoveries.

It was a dominant effort in all three phases of the game as Jackson State's final score came from a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.

On the other sideline, Florida A&M couldn't get much going offensively regardless of who was under center. Starting quarterback Jeremy Moussa was pulled for Rasean McKay in the second half, but the duo turned the ball over one and three times, respectively, and combined to complete less than 40 percent of their passes. The run game did little to help the quarterbacks out gaining only 34 yards for 1.21 yards per carry. The rushing attack has yet to find its footing after averaging 2.07 yards per carry a week ago.

Defensively, the Rattlers have now allowed 5 passing touchdowns in consecutive weeks to open the season and have gotten limited pressure on the quarterback with just two sacks.

Florida A&M's loss is its worst defeat to an HBCU in school history, surpassing the Rattlers' 59-7 home loss to Hampton in 2006. Head Coach Willie Simmons described the loss as "embarrassing" and as his "worst coaching job in his 18 years of [coaching]". The Rattlers are now 0-2 on the season.

Meanwhile, Jackson State picks up a key divisional conference win, moving to 1-0 with great momentum to carry into next week. In the win, Tigers were able to show off their prized freshman Travis Hunter, who showed shut down cornerback ability on defense, but didn't play any offense.

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