Sanders, defense help Jackson St. beat Florida A&M 7-6

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Shedeur Sanders scored the only touchdown of the game and the Jackson State defense got two fourth-down stops in the closing minutes to help the Tigers beat Florida A&M on Sunday in the Orange Blossom Classic at Hard Rock Stadium.

Sanders, the son of football hall of famer and Jackson State coach Deion Sanders, was 18-of-24 passing for 221 yards and scored on a 1-yard run that capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive and made it 7-3 early in the second quarter.

JSU’s Trey Lockhart tackled Chad Hunter just shy of the first-down marker to force a turnover on downs near midfield with 2:59 to play. After the Tigers (1-0, 1-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference) went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Bishop Bonnet ripped off a 20-yard run to move FAMU to the Jackson State 38 with 30 seconds left. Junior Muratovic threw three consecutive incomplete passes before being sacked by James Houston and Cam’Ron Silmon on fourth-and-10 to seal it.

Muratovic, a true freshman, replaced starting quarterback Rasean McKay early in the fourth quarter for Florida A&M (0-1, 0-1). McKay was 18-of-29 passing for 78 yards and Muratovic completed 5 of 12 for 47 yards.

Jackson State had a chance to extend its lead with about five minutes left but had an 11-play, 77-yard drive stall when Peytton Pickett was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 run from the FAMU 19.

Florida A&M’s Jose Romo-Martinez made a 21-yard field goal to open the scoring midway through the first quarter and a 39-yarder that made it 7-6 with 6:02 left in the first half.

The Rattlers, who played their first game in over 600 days due to complications surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, made their SWAC debut. FAMU had spent all but one season (2004, when the Rattlers played as an Independent) over the past three-plus decades as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

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