JACKSON, Miss. — Jalon Jones threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as Jackson State rolled past NAIA Edward Waters 53-0 in Deion Sanders’ coaching debut on Sunday.
Then it got weird, as was often the case during the “Prime Time” playing days.
During Sanders’ postgame news conference, the Hall of Fame cornerback and former Florida State standout said he was robbed of his cellphone, watches and credit cards during the game, putting a damper on the celebration.
“No. 1, the kids played really well,” Sanders said. “But while the game was going on, somebody came in and stole every darn thing I had in the locker room, coaches’ office. Credit cards, wallet, watches. Thank God I had on my necklaces.
Sanders, 53, then took his university’s security to task.
“So when I have to talk about quality, raising the standards — that goes for everyone, man,” Sanders continued. “Not just the people on the field, not just the coaches, not just the teachers, not just the faculty. But everybody — security and everybody.
“So how do you think it feels, coming back, after just teary-eyed because the guys had presented me with the game ball, one of the best moments I’ve ever had in my professional sports career emotionally. And then you go into your locker room, your coach’s office to digress, and you notice that you don’t even have a phone to call your mama, call your girl, call your kids because it’s been stolen. ... We’re going to find out who did it.”
Ahh, but the weirdness didn’t end there.
A Jackson State official told reporters that Sanders’ property was not stolen, only “misplaced” and it was “secured” by a university staffer.
But the coach said that was not true, and he responded on Twitter:
“Naw it was stolen but they got it back. It was stolen out my personal bag in my office and My assistant caught the gentleman in the process of stealing it but she was alone. No Miscommunication my man at all.”
As for the game, Kymani Clarke scored two rushing touchdowns. Warren Newman showed some dazzling speed as a wideout and kick returner and caught a 6-yard pass from Jones for JSU’s first score.
Jones completed 18 of 20 passes for 187 yards and TD passes to Newman, Daylen Baldwin and Christian Allen. JSU racked up 435 yards of total offense to Edward Waters 104.
After a week of rare freezing weather had many residents of Jackson waiting in long lines for bottled drinking water, the atmosphere among 12,000 fans sprinkled within Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium (44,215 capacity) was festive.
National Guard soldiers shot a cannon and did pushups after Jackson State scores, and Sanders had a bucket of ice dumped over his head at the end of the game as the people in the stands cheered the win.
Jackson State dominated, scoring on its opening drive and adding two more touchdowns in 67 seconds, wrapped around an Edward Waters fumble on a kickoff, to end the first half 31-0.
Jackson State had elected to receive to open the second half and scored in just under three minutes after a 50-yard kickoff return set the Tigers up at Edward Waters 47.
It was Jackson State’s first shutout since Sept. 6, 2014.
Prior to kickoff, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman surprised Sanders on the field with a hug and conversation. Aikman and Sanders played together on the Cowboys from 1995-99 and won the 1995 Super Bowl. Aikman received a COVID-19 test before heading down to the field.
COLD NIGHT/HOT FOOD
Jackson was hard hit by the deep freeze and icy roads last week, with nearly all of the 161,000 residents without running water, which created a dilemma for Sanders and his staff when they all went out to find dinner. Restaurant after restaurant was closed, he told the Clarion Ledger. Until ... the lights of a McDonald’s beckoned in the darkness.
“We rolled up there, all happy, ready to spit the order out, and ain’t nobody there. We were just sitting there at the drive-thru, but it really wasn’t a drive-thru, just a drive-stop. So now I have a problem. I’m starving, man.”
Jackson Fire Department’s Station 5 showed up with a healthy heaping of food for Sanders and his staff. You can find his video of the feast on Instagram @deionsanders.
Jackson State continues its home stand against Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, kicking off the Southwest Athletic Conference season.
Information from Yahoo Sports and ESPN contributed to this report.