The Greatest Game In the Football Series – Jackson State
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss athletics will look at the greatest games in each of the playing series of all 12 opponents from its 2018 football schedule, giving Golden Eagle fans a weekly look this summer of what we consider to be the greatest game in that series’ history.
We will post these games on social media as well, and ask fans to agree or disagree with our selections as well as share their favorite memory from these games.
Our first look back is from the Jackson State series. While there has only been two meetings between the two squads, the first one was historical in itself.
A crowd of 33,687 at Roberts Stadium attended the affair on Oct. 31, 1987, the first time that one of the state’s three major football programs had played against a historically black school. The game was tied at the end of the first half, but the Golden Eagles took a 7-0 lead when James Henry returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Tailback Shelton Gandy’s seven-yard touchdown run increased the lead to 14 early in the fourth quarter before Chris Seroka booted a 44-yard field goal to make the score 17-0.
The Tigers finally got on the scoreboard on a one-yard run by All-America tailback Lewis Tillman but could get nothing more in the 17-7 defeat.
"One thing ought to be clear," said coach Jim Carmody. "Jackson State is as good or perhaps better than a lot of Division I teams that we play. They make few mistakes. They are sound fundamentally. They are well motivated and well coached. And when they tackle you, they stay tackled."
The 41-year Voice of the Golden Eagles, John Cox, had this to say about the game.
“It was one of the best atmosphere’s I have ever seen in Roberts Stadium that day. I remember looking out about two hours before kickoff and the stands were already about 75 percent full. The campus was packed and the roads were backed up in all directions as people tried to get into Hattiesburg for the game. Once the game started, it might have been the hardest hitting game that I have ever seen on both sides of the ball. Two great defenses squared off that day and it was kind of ironic that the biggest play that was a punt return by James Henry that was the difference in the game. It was a lot of fun to be a part of that one and an afternoon that I will always remember. It was a true classic!”
Click here for the video from that day.