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Mata, Defense Lifts Football To Southern Heritage Classic Win

TSU falls to JSU in 33rd annual Southern Heritage Classic
Credit: AP
FILE - Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders calls out a play in the first half of Jackson State's Blue and White Spring NCAA college football game April 24, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. Last season, Sanders' second as Jackson State head coach, the Tigers went 11-2 and won the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Then Sanders signed two Power Five-level recruits to the HBCU, an unprecedented recruiting feat. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  Alejandro Mata drilled three clutch field goals, while the defense racked up eight sacks in Jackson State football's 16-3 win over Tennessee State in the Southern Heritage Classic.
Mata made field goals of 28, 27, and 30 yards to help erase an early 3-0 deficit, while Nyles Gaddy's career-best four sacks led a determined defensive effort that limited Tennessee State to only three net yards in the second half.
QB Shedeur Sanders' 27-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gaines with just over two minutes to play was the lone touchdown in the contest and put the game away for Jackson State (2-0 overall, 1-0 SWAC).
Mata made his first two field goals in the second quarter to give JSU a 6-3 halftime lead. His third field goal late in the third quarter provided the Tigers a six-point lead until the final minutes.
Gaddy recorded half of J-State's sack total for a defensive unit that allowed only two yards rushing, 11 total first downs, and 140 total yards. John Huggins had 1.5 sacks, Jeremiah Williams and Jason Mercier each had one sack, and Justin Ragin had the other ½ sack for Jackson State, which had 15 tackles for loss.
The defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Tigers will play its home opener Saturday in the W.C. Gorden Classic at 1 p.m. against Grambling in a non-conference game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

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