MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Patrick Smith had a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown and Laquarius Cook broke up a potential tying 2-point conversion in the closing minutes to help Tennessee State hold off Jackson State on Saturday night for a 17-15 win at the Liberty Bowl in the 2017 Southern Heritage Classic.
Quarterback Treon Harris had 11 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown for Tennessee State (2-0), which has won six in a row against Jackson State.
Smith’s punt return made it 17-9 but Terrell Kennedy took the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown with 4:48 to play before Cook’s pass breakup stopped the 2-point conversion try and preserved Tennessee State’s two-point lead. Christian Jaquemin’s 47-yard field-goal attempt as time expired missed wide right.
Harris had three carries for 63 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown just more than a minute in, on the opening drive and Tennessee State led the rest of the way.
Cook intercepted a pass in the end zone in the third quarter.
Brent Lyles was 24-of-45 passing for 196 yards and added 55 yards rushing for Jackson State, which has lost six in a row dating to last season.