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CSN SWAC Attack: One Fell Swoop

floated rightBy Brandon Williams, CSN SWAC Attack Columnist

In one fell swoop, Jackson State saved its season while delivering a body blow to Southern’s.

The Tigers’ 22-14 win over the Jaguars may have had more lasting impact in the SWAC than Prairie View’s win over Grambling State last Saturday. While the Panthers’ win gives them total control of their West Division destiny, Jackson State’s first win of the season served as a reminder that coach Rick Comegy’s team – the defending East champs – are still alive.

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JSU’s defense bent. Oh, did it ever, but the Tigers never broke. Southern’s high-powered offense penetrated Tigers’ territory seven times (five in the first half), but managed only two touchdowns. The defense’s iron will inspired the Tigers’ struggling offense to finally come to life, as quarterback Trae Rutland (363 total yards, two touchdowns) found his 2008 magic at the right time.

No number was telling than the 207 passing yards that Southern’s Bryant Lee managed. The All-SWAC standout needed 39 passes to achieve that.

“We had them on the ropes,” said Southern coach Pete Richardson. “Any time you’re on the road and let the home team hang around, that’s bad.”

Southern’s “bad” was “good” for Jackson State, which gets home games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Texas Southern and a road trip to Mississippi Valley State. The Tigers will be favored in all three, which – if they go 3-0 – will set them up for a Nov. 7 tilt against Alabama State that could swing the momentum in the East.

The Tigers avoid Prairie View A&M on the regular season schedule, but last Saturday may have been the first step toward the two schools eventually meeting in the SWAC title game on Dec. 12.

STRIKE OUT THE BAND(S)

Both Grambling State and Prairie View A&M’s marching bands received reprimands from the SWAC office after both continued playing after an offensive team broke the huddle during last Saturday’s game.

Each school received a warning from the Cotton Bowl public address announcer, but to no avail.

A second warning would result in a one-game suspension for either band. A third would result in the band being kept out of the stands for the remainder of the season.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Prairie View A&M (2-1, 2-0) at Alabama State (3-1, 0-1), 1 pm Saturday
What to Watch For: The Hangover is the title of one the year’s (if not the decade’s) funniest movies. It shouldn’t describe what the Panthers could go through on the heels of finally defeating Grambling State last week. New starting quarterback K.C. Black must keep the PV offense rolling against a Hornets defense that ranks second in the SWAC in points allowed.
Who to Watch For: Hornets QB Chris Mitchell has had two weeks to stew after a season-worst effort in a loss to Mississippi Valley State. He’ll have to get WR Nicholas Andrews involved early against a PV secondary that is second in pass defense.

OTHER GAMES

Alabama A&M (4-1, 1-0) at Grambling State (2-3, 0-1), 3 p.m. Saturday
This is an important game for the visiting Bulldogs, who have won five of their last six dating to last season. If they’re intent on staking their claim as a potential SWAC title contender, this is the game to do it. Grambling is smarting from their loss to Prairie View; their defense is allowing 32 points per game and have struggled stopping teams on third down.

Texas Southern (1-3) at Rutgers (3-1), 2:30 p.m. Saturday
It is what it is for the Tigers: a “paycheck” game out east against an FBS squad. The Scarlet Knights have found a power running game (204 yards per outing) and will have no problem exploiting a TSU defense that has allowed 33 points per game.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-2, 1-1) at Jackson State (1-3, 0-1), 4 p.m. Saturday
The Tigers are hoping the win over Southern is the springboard to turning around their fortunes. QB Trae Rutland is healthy and is coming off his best game of the season. Pine Bluff comes off their postponed outing against Alcorn State and their defense (+8 turnover margin) plays well against a JSU squad that has been error-prone all season.

Mississippi Valley State (2-2, 1-1) at Alcorn State (0-3, 0-1), 4 p.m. Saturday
Twenty-five years after the two schools clashed in one of the monumental games in SWAC history, the programs meet in a contest that will have slightly less signficance. Still, the Delta Devils have ripped off consecutive wins and appear to have found a triggerman in QB Paul Roberts. The Braves have won the last two meetings and will have an emotional charge flowing; the team will honor the late Steve McNair during the contest.