Bulldogs celebrate Celebration Bowl victory

Wide receiver Shaq Davis does the Prime Time shuffle on his first TD grab in the second quarter.
Wide receiver Shaq Davis does the Prime Time shuffle on his first TD grab in the second quarter.(WIS)
Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 3:48 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Coach Buddy Pough brings a title home to Orangeburg. South Carolina State leaves Atlanta as Celebration Bowl champions, and more significantly, the Black College Football National champions.

It secured Pough his third national title as the Bulldogs leader.

“It was a wonderful day for our university and our athletics department,” said coach Pough. “Hopefully, we can continue to build on this win and improve the facilities and other things that can make this last a long time.”

S.C. State dismantled Jackson State, 31-10. The Bulldogs defense bullied the Tigers most of the game. They forced three turnovers. And the Bulldogs’ opportunistic offense turned it into 21 points, with each of those touchdown drives starting inside JSU’s 20-yard line.

“South Carolina State kicked our butt,” said Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders. “Every way, every fashion, they were more physical than us, more disciplined than us.”

Shaq Davis set a Celebration Bowl record with three touchdown receptions. He finished the game with five receptions for 95 yards.

In the first quarter, Buddy and the Bulldogs’ offense seemed stuck in reverse.

Their first three drives were all three-and-outs, gaining a mere 12 total yards. Quarterback Corey Fields failed to find one Bulldog wideout missing on all five pass attempts in that span. Early woes offensively put the pressure squarely on S.C. State’s defense.

The Bulldogs defense responded, limiting the Tigers to one successful third-down conversion in four tries in the first quarter.

Irmo’s Kendrell Flowers on the fourth drive provided a brief spark on a 25-yard run. It gave S.C. State its first, first down of the game with under two minutes to play in the first quarter. But the drive ended when former Gamecock, Shilo Sanders, intercepted a Corey Fields pass attempt to Will Vereen.

Fields’ throw was flat and off-target between the hashes. Sanders stepped inside Vereen’s route to swipe the pass at the Tigers’ 23-yard line. Jackson State would take over on S.C. State’s 48-yard line because of a 15-yard personal foul called on Chris Simon. The Bulldogs’ defense showed grit on the ensuing drive.

On fourth and one from the Bulldogs 15, the Tigers turned to Shedeur Sanders to pick it up. But Aaron Smith greeted Sanders short of the line to gain to deny Jackson State the first down and potential points.

The Bulldogs offense did not build on the momentum created by the defensive stand. And on the ensuing punt, punter Dyson Roberts kept the Tigers out of the scoring zone. On his 36-yard punt to Jackson State’s 25-yard line, Warren Newman found room to run and had only two Bulldogs in his path on the race to the endzone.

Dyson dove and dropped Newman by his shoe at the Tigers 46. A huge play at that moment. The turning point came late in the second quarter.

Patrick Godbolt had Sanders wrapped up in the backfield as Jeblonski Green swooped in to knock the ball out of the QB’s hands. BJ Davis recovered the loose ball at the Tigers’ five-yard line with 3:25 to play in the second quarter.

S.C. State capitalized on the excellent field position. Fields hit Shaq Davis in the land of celebration on 3rd and goal from the six-yard line. Then Davis hit the prime time shuffle and dropped the hammer on the sideline to celebrate. The score tied the game at 7-7 with 2:06 left to play in the first.

The Bulldogs’ next possession resulted in more points. S.C. State put together a 10-play 36-yard drive, leading to a Gavyn Zimmerman chip shot 26-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the half.

S.C. State headed to the locker room up 10-7. Bulldogs bit down on the Tigers to start the third. Sanders’ pass went through the hands of Warren Newman and into the waiting arms of Kendall Moultrie.

The interception gave the Bulldogs offense the ball on the 16-yard line. S.C. State once again lit the scoreboard with great starting field position.

Davis won the battle for the ball in the endzone on the Fields throw. The 16-yard touchdown pass made it 17-7 Bulldogs with 12:36 to go in the third quarter.

The Tigers’ meltdown continued on their next drive. Green drilled Sanders as he threw, and the ball floated for Aaron Smith to swoop in for the interception less than a minute after the Bulldogs touchdown. Once again, S.C. State would take over deep in Jackson State territory.

And the Bulldogs coach Buddy Pough showed confidence in his team on a critical fourth down.

On 4th and 19 from JSU’s 28, Fields tossed a dart to Will Vereen for 20 yards and a first and goal.

Then two plays later, Fields found Richard Bailey open in the scoring zone for a 15-yard touchdown connection. SCSU took a 24-7 lead with 8:43 to go in the third.

One of the biggest plays came around the 11-minute mark in the fourth quarter, with SCSU leading 24-10. The Bulldogs were backed up deep in their end. On 3rd and 8 from inside the 10, Donte Anthony ripped off a 26 yard run up the middle to move the chains and keep the clock ticking.

They followed up that third-down conversion with another on the same drive.

Fields showed poise to link up with Davis for 43 yards to the JSU 25-yard line on a third and long. It was an impressive catch-and-throw in double coverage. And Davis would cap the drive with another tough catch in traffic for a touchdown at the 6:19 mark in the fourth. It secured his third TD catch of the game.

SCSU marched 93 yards in nine plays to make it 31-10.

Former SCSU Bulldog Darius Leonard took to Twitter after the game.

Fields finished the game going 12-31 for 166 yards and four touchdowns. Anthony put up solid stats from the backfield, finishing with 17 carries for 65 yards.

SCSU’s defense played outstanding, allowing only 194 total yards from Jackson State. Only 19 of those came from the ground.

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