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ATLANTA – Quarterback Davious Richard ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns, including a 1-yard scoring plunge in overtime, and North Carolina Central beat Jackson State 41-34 in the Celebration Bowl on Saturday to spoil coach Deion Sanders’ bid for an undefeated season. his last game with the Tigers.

The Eagles’ defense made a goal-line stand on Jackson State’s first overtime to preserve the win. Hayden Hagler’s touchdown run on third down from the 1 set up an incompletion by Jackson State quarterback Shedder Sanders to end what was billed as a championship for historically black college and university teams.

Sanders’ 19-yard touchdown pass to Travis Hunter as regulation expired set up Alejandro Mata’s extra point to send the game to overtime. It was the fourth assist of the game for Sanders, who also ran for a score.

Jackson State (12-1) was denied its bid for the first undefeated season in school history. Coach Deion Sanders takes over the football program at Colorado, but wanted to finish the season with his Tigers first. Shader Sanders will accompany his father to Boulder.

The win for NC Central (10-2) gave the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference a 6-1 record over Southwestern Athletic Conference teams in the Celebration Bowl.

Latrell Collier’s 7-yard scoring run with 4:31 left gave NCCU the lead. The Tigers responded with a 15-play drive that included Sanders’ 10-yard, fourth-down pass to JD Martin.

Richard passed for 177 yards with a touchdown and ran for 97 yards and two scores. Richard showed off his versatility on a 3-yard drive for the first touchdown of the game. Richard had a 21-yard run, a 30-yard trick play and a 5-yard scoring run to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead.

Sanders quickly showed he also boasts dual-threat skills as Jackson State outscored North Carolina Central 21-7 the rest of the half. Sanders completed 13 of 14 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns and had four catches for 34 yards and another score at the half as the Tigers led 21-17.

A fake punt early in the second half helped the Eagles regain the lead. Kyle Morgan overcame the fake punt and ran 43 yards to the Jackson State 24. Richard’s 12-yard scoring pass to Quentin McCall gave North Carolina Central a 23-21 lead after Adrian Olivo’s missed extra point.

Olivo’s 21-yard field goal late in the third quarter pushed the lead to five points.

PERFORM in a crowd

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attended the game in support of his nephew, Jackson State sophomore defensive lineman Charlton “Charlie” Goodell. Goodell Jr. is Roger Goodell’s nephew.

TAKEWAY

North Carolina Central. The Eagles relied on their stronger running game. A balanced running attack led by Richard and Collier gave NC Central a 276-78 advantage in rushing yards.

Jackson State. The Tigers were resilient in responding to an early 10-0 deficit. Sanders was key as a runner and passer, leading the comeback.

NEXT

North Carolina Central. The Eagles will look for back-to-back MEAC championships when they open their 2023 season at North Carolina A&T on Sept. 3.

Jackson State. With wide receivers coach TC Taylor as the new head coach, the Tigers will return to Atlanta to open the 2023 season against South Carolina State in the Cricket MEAC-SWAC Challenge.

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