Jackson St. 39, Miss. Valley St. 13
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ The defense made the difference for Jackson State on Saturday.
The Tigers overcame a lukewarm first half to end up with 444 total offensive yards and 32 unanswered points, overpowering Mississippi Valley State 39-13.
``I think this is a very good 1-AA team,″ Jackson State head coach James Carson said. ``We played sloppy in the first half. I told them that we had to play like champions, if we are going to be champions. Our defense did an excellent job in the second half.″
The Tigers (4-0, 2-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference) won their 12th straight regular-season game and its ninth consecutive victory in the conference, after finishing undefeated last season.
``We made too many mistakes at the wrong time,″ Mississippi Valley State assistant coach Willie Toten said. ``We did a lot of good things in the first half. I think we got a little excited at the begining of the third quarter and the game got away from us.
``Jackson State has a very good defensive team.″
After fumbling the ball away on their opening possession, the Tigers capitalized on a missed Delta Devils field goal by driving 80 yards on its next possession. Jackson State took a 7-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by Grailyn Pratt with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Davis Ross responsed for Mississippi Valley (1-3, 0-1 SWAC) with a one-yard touchdown run, but the Delta Devils missed the point-after kick to trail 7-6.
After Terry Houzah’s interception, Mississippi Valley took a 13-7 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Ray Luckett with 11:35 remaining before the half.
Jackson State took a 19-13 halftime advantage after getting a three-yard touchdown run from Carlos Knight with 7:36 remaining, and recording a safety when Mississippi Valley kicked the ball out of the end zone.
Jackson State’s defense took control in the third quarter.
After Gary Taylor scored on a one-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 26-13, Quincy Coleman intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to give Jackson State a 33-13 lead after three quarters.
Pratt, who finished with 224 all-purpose yards, passed 11 yards to Jerome Young for a touchdown with 12:01 left in the game.