North Carolina Central (10-2) ruined Deion Sanders’ farewell game with a 41-34 overtime victory over the previously unbeaten Jackson State Tigers (12-1) for the 2022 Cricket Celebration Bowl title.
The victory extends the MEAC’s win streak in the MEAC/SWAC postseason bowl games to a fifth consecutive and 6-1 overall.
Davius Richard led the charge for the Eagles’ offense (10-2) with over 300 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. Richard and running back Latrell Collier combined for 173 rush yards on 37 carries. NCCU’s top-20 FCS ground attack gashed the JSU defense for 254 rushing yards and three scores from 42 total carries.
The Tigers’ defense came into the matchup as the FCS’ best unit and surrendered season-highs in points, and 460 total yards. They didn’t force a single turnover for the first time this season and allowed over 400 yards of total offense in back-to-back games.
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Offensively, JSU didn’t have any problems moving the football through the air. In his final game with the program, Shedeur Sanders tossed for over 300 yards (329) and four scores, with two going to freshman phenom Travis Hunter.
However, Sanders was sacked multiple times throughout the matchup. The Tigers’ offense rushed for a measly 64 yards on 23 carries as the Eagles’ defensive front stymied them.
The game was ultimately decided by JSU’s final two offensive plays of their season. A play-action pass to backup tight end Hayden Hagler was dropped in the end-zone that could’ve pushed the Tigers’ to a double-overtime. Following that miscue, Sanders scurried from the rush to throw an incompletion on fourth-and-goal that cemented JSU’s fate.
The victory for NCCU gives them its first-ever Celebration Bowl title and its first HBCU Football National Championship since 2006. The Tigers complete the season with another missed opportunity at an outright HBCU title and an 0-2 record against the MEAC in the Coach Prime Era.
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