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2021 Celebration Bowl: South Carolina State Shocks Jackson State

2021 Celebration Bowl

The 2021 Celebration Bowl was a showcase of the South Carolina State Bulldogs defense in the 31-10 upset of the Jackson State Tigers. The experience of South Carolina. State head coach Oliver Pough won out over the star power of second-year Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders.

The Tigers were the better team on paper, coming into this game as 11-1 SWAC Champions. The Bulldogs, who were winners of their last five games, got their sixth straight win to end the season 7-5.

This was the fifth win for the MEAC in the six Celebration Bowls, and the first MEAC team other than North Carolina A&T to win it.

Jackson State opened the scoring with a seven yard touchdown from Shedeur Sanders to Keith Corbin.

The South Carolina State defense got them back in the game after stopping Jackson State on fourth down in the red zone. A few drives later, Bj Davis recovered a Shedeur Sanders fumble on the Tigers’ five-yard line to give the Bulldogs a first-and-goal situation. Corey Fields connected with Shaquan Davis right before halftime for a quick, game-tying touchdown.

The Bulldogs got a short field goal right before halftime, and added to their score in the third with another turnover. Kenda Moultrie picked off Sanders to set up a second Fields-to-Davis touchdown early in the second half.

Jackson State was unable to dig themselves out of the hole, and South Carolina State took home the 2021 Celebration Bowl Championship, winning the game 31-10.

The Celebration Bowl is often dubbed “The HBCU National Championship.” Jackson State was clear favorite as the top-ranked HBCU in the FCS coaches poll, and the only such school in the Top-25 other than Florida A&M.

South Carolina State entered Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as the clear underdogs, but emerged victorious after the final whistle.

2021 Celebration Bowl: South Carolina State Shocks Jackson State

The Turning Point in the 2021 Celebration Bowl

Jackson State took the early lead, and it looked like they were going assert themselves as the top HBCU in the country. A slew of turnovers ground that Tigers’ offense to a halt.

First, the Bulldogs stopped the Tigers on fourth-and-one on their own ten-yard line to help take momentum away from Coach Prime. They leveled the score after Sanders’ fumble, then got a field goal to take the lead.

Coming out of the locker rooms, two more Jackson State turnovers led to two more South Carolina State touchdowns. This allowed the Bulldogs to take an insurmountable lead.

South Carolina State’s Defense

The Bulldogs completely shut down the Jackson State offense, which was one of the highest scoring in FCS.

Sanders entered this game as one of the most accurate and efficient passers in FCS. The Bulldogs kept him to only 16 completions on 3360 attempts, 175 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and one fumble. The South Carolina State defensive line kept him on the run, and while he escaped with only two sacks all game, he still never could set his feet and make good throws.

Bj Davis led the defense with tackles at nine. He also had the fumble recovery that led to South Carolina State’s first touchdown. The Bulldogs’ defensive line also dominated the run game, leaving the Tigers with only 30 yards on 26 attempts.

Player of the Game: Shaquan Davis

Bj wasn’t the only Davis to have a monumental impact on this game. On the other side of the ball, another Davis, Shaquan (no relation), turned the tide for the Bulldogs.

Shaq Davis led the 2021 Celebration Bowl with five catches, 95 yards, and three touchdowns. Davis had the days’ longest play from scrimmage, the most total yards from scrimmage, and the most touchdowns.

He accounted for most of Fields’ production, as Fields had 166 passing yards and four touchdowns.

For most of the game, Davis was impossible to cover. No matter how many defenders were near him, Fields found ways to drop the ball right to him. More than half of Fields’ throws went in the direction of Davis, and that strategy payed off.

Davis was the obvious pick for Player of the Game.

Embed from Getty Images


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