JACKSON, Miss. — The Grambling State University football team refused to back down in the opening half on Saturday afternoon, but 11th-ranked Jackson State imposed its will and flexed its muscles in a 24-point third quarter in a 66-24 home-opener victory in the W.C. Gordon Classic on Saturday afternoon at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Grambling State (1-2) got the ball to begin the game. After a short Quaterius Hawkins to Maurice Washington completion, Ryan Peppins caught a short pass but fumbled the football at the GSU 21.
Jackson State (3-0) took advantage of a Grambling State penalty as Sy’veon Wilkerson scored on a 1-yard run, giving JSU a 7-0 lead with 9:55 left in the opening frame.
Both teams struggled to move the ball on their next possessions. Hawkins was picked off at the JSU 39.
Jackson State went to work, moving the ball on the ground with Wilkerson getting the bulk of the carries. Sheduer Sanders kept the drive alive with a fourth-down completion as JSU extended the lead to 14-0 after a Wilkerson 3-yard touchdown scamper with 36 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
But Grambling State would not end the opening quarter scoreless as Maurice Washington broke into daylight and went 73 yards to the house as GSU closed the gap to 14-7 as the first period ended.
GSU wasn’t done as the defense accounted for the next score. GSU defensive end Sundiata Anderson sacked Sanders, knocking the ball free as Bryan Powell picked up a fumble at the Jackson State 17 and went untouched into the end zone for the scoop and score touchdown as Grambling State tied the game at 14 with 14:11 remaining in the half.
Jackson State responded with a 9-play, 71-yard drive as Sanders connected with Dallas Daniels for a 7-yard touchdown pass to give JSU the 21-14 lead with 9:54 left in the second quarter.
After GSU was forced to punt the football, Grambling State got a gift on the Jimmy Iles punt as Kevin Coleman muffed the receptions and the loose ball was recovered by Chance WIlliams at the Jackson State 25.
The GSU drive stalled as Garrett Urban’s kick was no good from 46 yards, but running into the kicker moved the ball closer by five yards as he booted the 41-yarder, cutting the deficit to 21-17 with 5:19 remaining.
Both teams were forced to punt the ball and JSU started its final drive of the half at the Grambling State 41 with 1:57 left. Sanders connected with Daniels for a big gain, but was stripped of the ball and was recovered by Marquis Britten to end the JSU scoring threat.
Jackson State took the opening kickoff to begin the second half, marching down the field as Sanders hit Daniels for a 28-yard touchdown, extending the JSU lead to 28-17 with 13:25 left in the third.
An Alejandro Mata 31-yard field goal, with 9:41 left in the frame pushed the lead to 31-17.
On Grambling State’s next drive, Quaterius Hawkins was sacked, fumbling the ball on the play as JSU recovered the ball at the GSU 11. One play later, Alvin Brumfield bulldozed his way into the end zone, increasing the JSU lead to 38-17 with 5:42 left in the quarter.
After another GSU punt, Jackson State put together another drive with Sanders scoring on a. 15-yard keeper with 1:43 remaining to give JSU a 44-17 lead.
Jackson State put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter as Sanders connected with Willie Gaines for an 86-yard touchdown strike, extending the advantage to 52-17.
JSU added one more touchdown to push the lead to 59-17.
Grambling State tacked on a touchdown with 4:45 remaining as Lyndon Rash scored on a 79-yard touchdown strike from Hawkins to close the gap to 59-24.