JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson State’s Hail Mary prayer was answered as time expired here Saturday evening, lifting the home-standing Tigers to 22-17 win over visiting
Florida A&M in the W.C. Gorden Classic at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers (1-0) scored on a 49-yard pass from La Montiez Ivy to DeSean McKenzie, which passed through the hands of defender Terry Johnson.
FAMU (0-1) rallied in the game’s final moments to take a 17-16 lead on senior Damien Fleming’s two-yard swing pass to freshman halfback Gerald Hearns with 46 seconds left, capping a 67-yard drive.
The Rattlers led 10-6 at the half, thanks to Fleming’s first scoring toss, a 21-yard pass into coverage to Dennis Hall with 30 seconds left in the second period, which erased a 6-3 Jackson State.lead.
JSU’s Ryan Deising booted a pair of first half field goals, a 22-yarder for the game’s first points with 7:29 left in the first quarter, and a 20-yarder with 2:31 left in the half, which broke a 3-3 tie.
FAMU’s Chase Varnadore nailed a 25-yarder with 7:37 left in the second period to tie the game, 3-3..
Jackson regained the lead at 13-10 on Rakeem Sims’ one-yard plunge with 4:11 left in the third period, before Deising’s 25-yard fielder extended the Tigers lead to 16-10 with 14:47 left in the game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Rattlers allowed 439 total yards to Jackson Saturday, but limited them to field goals when the Tigers got into the red zone on three different occasions.
FAMU finished with 302 total yards, led by Fleming’s 188 yards passing and 59 yards rushing. He hit on 16 of 27 passes, tossing a pair of scoring strikes.
Freshman Gerald Hearns rushed for 56 yards on 16 carries, while finishing the night as the leading receiver with five receptions for 35 yards and a TD.
Defensive back Peter Tulloch led the Rattlers with nine tackles and one interception he returned 60 yards to set up Varnadore’s second quarter field goal. Safety Neal Cunningham also had nine tackles, while Terry Johnson and Akil Blount had eight each.
Jackson State’s Rakeem Sims rushed for 117 yards on 19 carries, while Ivy passed for 269 yards, completing 25 of 41 passes and one score.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Rattlers head to Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida, to take on the University of Miami at 7 p.m.