At a pack stadium of 51, 596 people, the Jackson State Tigers took on their toughest test of the season. While some may not know the Fighting Camels of Campbell University, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they presented Jackson State with their toughest competition to date. Campbell had beaten their last three opponents by a combined score of 123 to 56. Their head coach, Mike Minter, has been coaching the team since 2013. He has never had a losing season, and he has posted double digit wins in every season since 2013, except the Covid shorten season (2020), where the Camels went undefeated (4-0). Campbell is a member of the Big South and was in no way a “cupcake” team or a typical Homecoming invitee. The Camels could have very well played the same role the Tigers played a few weeks ago against the Alabama State Hornets and spoiled Homecoming.
The Campbell University Fighting Camels, led by Head Coach Mike Minter, a former NFL star, presented unique challenges for Jackson State's defense. First, they have a fast-tempo offense that puts tremendous pressure on defenses. Their offense doesn't allow defenses the time they need to make adjustments or sub in many players. Secondly, their offense also possesses an almost "impossible to sack" quarterback, whose elusive rating on NCAA 2023 should be at nearly 95, after this game -against Jackson State. Their QB Hajj-Malik Williams was simply remarkable at times during this contest. At one point in the game, he was trapped deep in his backfield and right in the clutches of Jackson State’s All-World linebacker Aubrey Miller, and he made him miss twice and ran for a considerable gain. Williams' started the Camel’s scoring with a 20-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter to put the Camels up 7-3. Finally, the Camels' offense plays with as much heart and passion as they do tempo. They showed no fear of the Tigers and walked into Jackson during homecoming and "punched the Tigers right in the mouth," driving the ball well early in the contest. They were confident, coming off a three-game winning streak, including a 48-18 beat down of North Carolina Central University.
The Jackson State defense initially showed signs of vulnerability, but they made adjustments very similar to what they did when Grambling came out hot in the first half of their contest. They were down 7-3 in the first quarter but didn't let the Camels score again until there was less than a minute left in the game. LB Aubrey Miller led the Tigers' defense with big play after big play. His plays were momentum changers as he delivered punishment to Campbell runners. The secondary also played well, holding Campbell to only 137 yards passing. The Tigers did give up 2 TDs, but the final TD was insignificant with under a minute left in the game and the Tigers up by 8 points. Jackson State's defense is scary and will continue to be effective if they can avoid injuries this season.
Travis Hunter also returned this week and played a critical role in shutting down one-half of the field on defense, as the Camels barely tried the highly touted freshman. He did not have a great game as a wide receiver, catching four passes for only 24 yards. In addition, a pass intended for him in the end zone was intercepted. Shedeur Sanders seemed to force the ball to Hunter in tight coverage. Hunter has been out for a few games, so timing between him and Sanders may need a bit of in-game action before the Tigers see production from the duo. The connection between Shedeur and WR Dallas Daniels doesn't need any work, as the two continue to play well together. Daniels led all receivers in catches and receiving yards with six catches for 63 yards. Jackson State RB Wilkerson showed the football world again why he is one of the best running backs in the SWAC. He finished the game with 116 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. The Tigers sent their homecoming crowd home happy with this 22-14 win over the Camels.
Many stars were in attendance today. Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, and Michael Strahan made appearances on the Tigers' sidelines. Coach Sanders reminded the world this week, that Homecoming was the environment that led to the Travis Hunter signing. Many future prospects were in attendance this weekend including players like Tennesse ATH Marquez Taylor.
The Tigers will face the #1 team in the SWAC West next week, the Southern University Jaguars.