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HC Buddy Pough says Jackson State is tougher under TC Taylor, as they suffer horrific loss

Updated: Nov 4, 2023


Jackson State QB Jason Brown led the offense to a dominating finish against SCSU. Photo Credit: Will Smith
Jackson State QB Jason Brown led the offense to a dominating finish against SCSU. Photo Credit: Will Smith

The 2023 MEAC/SWAC Challenge showcased an exciting display of talent and competitive football between the South Carolina State University Bulldogs of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Jackson State University Tigers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). This annual event, held at the beginning of the season, provides an opportunity for teams to make a statement and set the tone for the rest of their campaigns. This year’s game was particularly special because two years prior, the SCSU Bulldogs put an end to the JSU Tigers perfect season in the 2021 Celebration Bowl. Needless to say, the Tigers roared their way to a 37-7 victory last night.


The Challenge featured thrilling matchups, new faces, and strong contention on both sides of the ball. Starting it off early on defense was the Tigers Devonta Davis (Sr., 6-3, 296) with a critical 3rd down stop for no gain, which led to the first punt of the game from the Bulldogs. Followed by linebacker Isaac Peppers (Gr., 6-0, 215) of the Tigers in the 2nd quarter with a sack that exposed the SCSU offense line's lack of protection. These key plays defined how the Tigers’ defense would handle the offense for the rest of the game.


Running backs JD Martin (Sr., 6-1, 195) and Irv Mulligan (Gr., 5-10, 205) established the run early on in the game to set the tone for how JSU was going to blaze on offense. The Tigers capitalized on a fumble recovery leading to a score during their first possession, establishing the pace that continued for the remainder of the game.


Although the Bulldogs had talented running backs in Tyler Smith (r-Fr., 5-11, 190) and Josh Shaw (r-Fr., 5-11, 215), they just could not get the run game established, which hurt them in the long run. QB Corey Fields (r-sr., 6-0, 200) also lacked accuracy, only completing 7 of 20 passes. In his post-game conference, he alluded to needing to heighten his accuracy and continue to remain focused as they move on in the season.


SCSU Bulldogs QB Corey Fields struggled to get the offense in a rhythm. Photo credit: Will Smith
SCSU Bulldogs QB Corey Fields struggled to get the offense in a rhythm. Photo credit: Will Smith

Head Coach Buddy Pough began his post-game conference statement by saying "Good evening everybody; y’all endured an ugly whooping tonight". As he led into why he felt the overall coaching did not meet the standard to win the game. It is noteworthy that SCSU has a new coaching staff, in particular Thomas Howard, defensive coordinator. HC Pough alluded to the fact that they still need time to put all the pieces together to get the team to where they would like and know it can be.


The Bulldogs went into the game essentially blind, as they did not know what to expect from the Tigers this year as they are under new direction with Head Coach TC Taylor. However, HC Pough stated that he knew they would be tougher than the previous seasons when they were under the direction of Coach Deion Sanders. When asked why he made that statement, he answered "Because I have worked against TC’s teams before". Alluding to being against teams that HC Taylor had previously coached and/or assisted. Thus, he knew the game would not be a cakewalk. The main takeaway for SCSU is that both sides of the ball need vast improvement, from ball protection to defensive coverage. The Bulldogs have a few weeks to get their team in top-tier shape before they face conference games, which will shape their season indefinitely.


JSU Sonic Boom had an amazing performance during the Halftime show. Photo Credit: Will Smith
JSU Sonic Boom had an amazing performance during the Halftime show. Photo Credit: Will Smith

Despite the fact that this was a big win for Jackson State, HC Taylor stated that he wanted his team to shake it off and stay focused as they have a solid road ahead of them. The Tigers are headed into another HBCU Classic game next Sunday at the Orange Blossom Classic against Florida A&M University. The coach mentioned that he wanted his team to play every game as hard as the first one while finishing it with class because that is the way.

There is no doubt that this win in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge will provide a significant boost of momentum for JSU along with their roaring fan base as they move into the regular season. It will be great to see just how much this sets the tone for a successful campaign as all eyes are set on the 2023 Celebration Bowl.

Key Notes:

The attendance record for the game was 24,238; it was the record attendance for a game in Atlanta. As well as the third highest attendance in the challenge's history.

JSU’s shortest offensive drive leading to a score was 2:32, with a touchdown by D.J. Stevens (Gr., 6-4, 235) for 21 yards.

JSU’s offense set a record for the longest scoring drive at 8:16 in the fourth quarter of the game.





Hi! This is Dez Barnes of Pretty Girls Love Sports and a new writer here on the MTMV Sports platform. I am a retired US Army veteran, professional cheerleader, dog mom, and avid sports lover. Feel free to follow my writings as I dive into the latest sports news! You can find me on all social media channels @PGLOVESPORTS.

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