South Alabama was shocked by Louisiana-Monroe.
A team that entered the game 2-6 on the season who was outscored 110-27 in the previous two games and was searching for answers after losing their starting quarterback and falling back on a redshirt freshman and a true freshman.
The Warhawks started freshman Caleb Evans at quarterback and he continually found receivers open over the middle. The Jags defense clearly missed Kalen Jackson in the middle of the defense. Missing six defensive linemen for the season, another clearly slowed from a recent injury, your top tackler is playing through injury, starting left guard out of the season, and also missing one of your top cover corners and it’s a recipe for trouble. But the nagging injuries do not stop there: Dallas Davis with turf toe, Xavier fighting through injury on top of all the other injuries that accumulate through the course of a season.
And trouble is exactly what the Jags ran into in Monroe.
On the positive side, the offense gained 516 yards, 209 of it on the ground. Having coach Vincent on the sideline definitely has helped spark the offense but 12 penalties for 83 yards is enough swing a close game the other way.
Head coach Joey Jones was clearly beyond unhappy after the game. Unhappy is not a good way to describe it. His post-game interview was blunt and honest. He felt the team did not come to play Saturday afternoon and that they had a lot to work on going into an open week.
The biggest question right now is who is going to step up and fill Kalen’s shoes. His ability to defend the middle of the field and provide run support was a huge part of the Jaguar defense.
Even with that, the Jags stepped up late in the game with a 6 play, 80 yard drive in 1:08 to tie the game up with :50 left in the game. The Warhawks took possession and got to the Jaguar 39 yard line before Evans was picked off by Jeremy Reaves at the USA 31 and returned to the ULM 33 with only five seconds left in the game.
Gavin Patterson’s season long is 40 yards and is 1-of-4 from 40-49 yards. With a 50 yard attempt to win the game, but his kick was blocked which sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, the defense had a 3rd and 1 at the 16 but an offsides penalty gave the Warhawks an automatic first down and they went on to score a touchdown.
The Jags opened their overtime possession with an three yard run by Xavier Johnson then back-to-back incompletions led to a 4th & 7, which turned into a 4th & 12 after a false start. Then the Warhawks sent a blitz up the middle that the offense couldn’t pick up and Dallas Davis was sacked to end the game 42-35.
The Jags best chance at getting bowl eligible is to get wins against Idaho and New Mexico State. The Presbyterian game currently cannot be counted towards bowl eligibility since they already have one win over a FCS school on their resume this season. There will be an appeal to the NCAA, but with all things NCAA related there’s no certainty as to what their response will be.
But that’s looking ahead, the only thing the Jags can control at this time is getting healed up as much as they can for Presbyterian on November 19. They have to stay focused on one game at a time and handle business.
These are all winnable games, but harder to fight two opponents at once: the team your playing and the injury bug. Let’s hope this is the END of the injuries and we can start actually play like a team rather than a MASH unit.
Forth quarter heroics propelled the Jaguars to a 13-10 win over Georgia State on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The game was a tale of two defenses. Each defense caused problems for the opposing offenses as neither team really ran the ball well nor did they throw the ball particularly well.
That is until the Jaguars started playing with urgency in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars took possession of the ball at their own 8 yard line with 11:03 on the clock. The drive began with a 15 yard pass completion to Gerald Everett then the Jaguars started a “death march. Six consecutive rushes that moved the ball from the USA 23 to the Panther 24 before the first negative play of the drive. And it was nearly disastrous as quarterback Dallas Davis was in the shotgun, but the center’s snap was as if he was under center.
After getting behind the down and distance, back-to-back incompletions gave head coach Joey Jones a very interesting choice to make: attempt a field goal and close within 4 points or go for it on 4th and 11 to keep the drive alive.
Jones opted to go for broke and it paid off. Davis’ pass to Everett was caught about five yards short of the first down marker, but Everett turned and accelerated upfield, broke tackles and willed a first down on a 14 yard gain.
The drive ended with three more runs for a game-tying touchdown.
Brandon McKee, who earned Sun Belt Conference honors for his play, pinned the Panthers at their own 9 yard line with 1:28 left in the game. After a flag for roughing the quarterback, Finesse Middleton came up with an 11 yard sack with :51 left and the Jags used their final time out to force a punt.
Then for the third time in the game, Brandon Wright shanked a punt. The kick sailed out of bounds at the 31 yards, a mere 18 yards.
With only :44 on the clock, no time outs and after already missing field goal in the game the Jags had the ball in a 10-10 tie.
After two runs, the Jags were flagged for a false start. Then Xavier Johnson took the ball and came up short of the first down. With the clock running, the offense came to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball with :06 left. Gavin Patterson came onto the field for a 30 yard attempt. After Panther head coach Trent Miles called both of his remaining time outs, Patterson drilled the kick to take a 13-10 lead with just two seconds left.
The sky kick to the sideline hit off a Panther’s hands and out of bounds. After an official review, they put one second on the clock but the Jaguars prevent defense and three man rush were enough to knock down the ball short of the end zone and give the Jaguars their first conference win.
South Alabama gained only 306 yards, 182 of it through the air. The Panthers gained 240 yards with 127 of them on the ground. Xavier Johnson led the Jags with 83 yards rushing while Everett was the leading receiver with four catches for 49 yards.
But the game MVP and deserved the SBC Special Teams Player of the Week honor was McKee who downed all four of his punts inside the 20. Corliss Waitman punted once for 53 yards and also downed his inside the 20.
Now the Jaguars look to build on their first conference win with a trip to Louisiana-Monroe, who is 2-6 on the season and hoping to keep their bowl chances alive under rookie head coach Matt Viator.
The Warhawks offense has suffered since losing their multi-dimensional quarterback for the season two weeks ago as they have been outscored 110-27 by New Mexico and Arkansas State.
Playing two young quarterbacks, a redshirt freshman and a true freshman, the Warhawks are trying to something that works.
USA did not have any serious injuries for what seemed like the first time all season against the Panthers. The Jags unprecedented list of injured began when they lost all three starting defensive linemen in summer camp, then lost during the season and then lost their leading tackler Kalen Jackson for the season against Troy. Couple that with turf toe injury to your starting quarterback, an undisclosed injury to Josh Magee, a couple injuries to Xavier Johnson that led him to miss playing time and losing the starting left guard and it’s amazing to think that they have wins over Mississippi State and then 19th ranked San Diego State under their belt this season already.
If the Jaguars can get their running game established early and the swarm defense can cause their normal distractions then the Jaguars should have a great opportunity to get back above .500 and one game closer to bowl eligibility.
Oh and let’s stay healthy too. That’s probably the biggest key.
The rivalry belt will spend the next year in Troy, Alabama after the Trojans scored 18 unanswered points to win 28-21 with a strong contingent of Trojan fans there to view the game. Jags fall to 3-4 overall and 0-4 in Sun Belt Conference play while Troy improves to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
The game started with a flurry but would later be overshadowed by the terrible officiating. The level of officiating would make anyone angry and would draw endless ire if it occurred in a Power 5 conference.
The first play from scrimmage it looked like the Trojans has scored a 79 yard touchdown, but running back Chunn stepped out of bounds near midfield. Then a pass was caught in the middle of the field and he was surrounded by the Jaguars swarm defense and stripped of the ball.
The Jags would capitalize with Xavier Johnson scoring on a short touchdown run.
The Jaguar defense forced a punt deep in Trojan territory, but the snap was low and the Jags pounced. Again another Xavier Johnson short touchdown run put the Jags up 14-0 early in the game.
Troy’s first big play of the game came on an 80 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Silvers to Tevaris McCormick to half the leave 14-7.
On one of the more dubious moments of officiating in the game, the play was called dead at the snap, Johnson was running out to the right flat and slowing down after the whistle, but a Trojan player kept going full speed, lowered his head and blindsided Xavier. No flag was thrown, but after head coach Joey Jones went to the numbers of the opposite side of the field pleading and checking on his player, the referees reviewed the play for targeting. They determined it was not targeting, Xavier left the game with an injury and never returned.
USA would score only once more after he left as the Jaguar rushing attack went anemic. Actually the Jags were outscored after Johnson and starting left guard Curtis Williams, who left with a knee injury in the first quarter, by a score of 21-7.
In the fourth quarter, in a tie game, the Jags had an opporunity after Randy Allen recovered a fumble late in the game, but the Jaguar offense couldn’t get anything going and went 3 and out.
Troy then drove 80 yards in 5 plays and only used :53 seconds to take a 28-21 lead.
Dallas Davis was sacked on the first play forcing the Jags to use their second time out with 1:06 left. After an incomplete pass, the Jags had some confusion on offense and burned their final time out with 1:00 left in the game.
Dallas Davis, facing 3rd and 18 at their own 13, was flushed out of the pocket and with the secondary playing deep coverage, he was able to scramble for 17 yards and a first down after a review due to a bad spot from the officiating crew.
Dami Ayoola rushed for 10 yards and another first down before Davis was sacked again in the pocket. After way too much time ran off the clock, Davis found Kutchera for a 35 yard completion but as he was trying to fight his way toward the end zone the ball came loose and was recovered by the Trojans with no time left on the clock.
Depsite leaving the game so early, Xavier was the Jags leading rusher with 58 yards on only six carries. Tyreis Thomas added 41 on 10 carries and Ayoola with 34 on 8 carries.
Davis was 11-of-20 for 195 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked 6 times.
Kutchera led the receiving corps with 92 yards on three receptions. Tyrone Williams hauled in 4 catches for 50 yards while Gerald Everett finished with 3 catches for 49 yards and the lone receiving touchdown.
Brandon McKee had seven punts for an average of 49.3 yards per kick, including a 74 yard lone as he pinned the opponent inside the 20 three times. Corliss Waitman kicked twice with an average of 42 yards per kick.
Jordan Chunn led the Trojans with 143 yards rushing on 23 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Silvers finished 28-of-42 for 395 yards and a touchdown.
Tevaris McCormick led all receivers with 127 yards on four catches and the lone passing touchdown. Emanual Thomas was next with 74 yards on 7 catches and John Johnson who has 72 yards on six catches.
Overall Troy outgained USA 585 to 340. Rushing, the Trojans had 190 to USA’s 145. Passing the Trojans had 395 yards to Davis’ 195.
Time of possession was pretty much equal as Troy possessed it for 30:56 in the game.
Jags will have a couple extra days before they host Georgia State on October 29 for homecoming.
Arkansas State’s defense counfouned the Jaguar offense the entire game save for one drive late in the fourth quarter en route to a 17-7 defeate of the Jaguars.
The Jags offensive line had problems protecting the quarterback and opening running lanes as Cole Garvin and Dallas Davis were sacked six times combined. Davis threw an interception inside the five yard line near the end of the first half. However the other Jaguar turnover, a fumble by Kutchera that was scooped up by a Red Wolf defender and returned for a touchdown, opened the scoring in the game.
The offense only tallied 255 yards of offense with only 61 on the ground. They only had 44 yards in the first half until the final Jaguar possession that ended with the INT inside the five.
The Jaguar defense only allowed 297 total yards, 204 of them on the ground. With the loss of Sir’Calvin Wallace for the game (though maybe not for the season), we’ve lost count how many defensive linemen have been injured for the Jags.
The inability for the Jags offense to protect quarterbacks Dallas Davis and Cole Garvin, was a stark difference from the previous game against San Diego State, that it was like it was a totally different team on the field. Just two weeks ago the Jags took down the then #19 team in the nation, then two weeks later they have major problems protecting, opening running lanes and putting points on the scoreboard.
Defensively, the Jags had problems stopping the Red Wolves rushing attack. Most of it can be attributed to the loss of so many defensive linemen, and yet they only allowed 10 points.
Cole Garvin started the game under center but gave way to Dallas Davis prior to halftime after the Jaguar offense had struggled to only gain 44 yards up to that point. Then the offense drove 56 yards prior to the interception at the 3 yard line ended the possession.
But it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Jaguars finally got on the scoreboard after short punt was downed at the USA 16 then a personal foul backed them up to the 8 yard line and finally a false start put them back at the 4 yard line. Facing 3rd and 9, Davis connected with Gerald Everett for a 76 yard catch and run to get deep into ASU territory. A few plays later the Xavier Johnson would get the only score of the game for USA.
Davis finished the game with 146 yards on 9-of-15 passing with an interception and sacked twice. Garvin only had 48 yards on 3-of-12 passing and took four sacked.
Everett had 125 yards receiving on five catches.
Dami Ayoola led the way rushing with 34 yards on six carries followed by Xavier Johnson with 24 yards on 10 carries.
Justice Hansen had 93 yards passing on 9-of-13 passing with one interception. Warren Wand led all rushing with 88 yards on 18 carries. Johnston White rushed for 58 on 12 carries and Hansen had 37 yards on 15 carries.
The Jags will have a short turnaround as they host conference leader Troy for a Thursday night nationally televised game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
South Alabama was ready for #19 ranked San Diego State’s bid for revenge for last season’s loss to the Jaguars in overtime. They were also ready for the
Entering the game, the Jags were without their starting quarterback Dallas Davis and starting running back Xavier Johnson. Sophomore Cole Garvin stepped in and played a great game. Garvin was an efficient 16 of 21 for 242 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception.
Tyreis Thomas, who started in place of the injured Johnson led the Jags on the ground with 33 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Dami Ayoola added 22 yards on eight carries with the other rushing touchdown for USA.
Garvin spread the ball around pretty well with Josh Magee earning the most catches with six for 83 yards and a touchdown but Gerald Everett lead the team with 103 receiving yards and a touchdown, including an 80 yard touchdown to open the 2nd half scoring.
Donnel Pumphrey entered the game as the nations leading rusher and averaged almost 200 yards per game, though he still rushed for a quiet 151 yards and a touchdown, the Jags kept him bottled up for most of the game.
Late in the second quarter the Jags got the ball after Kalen Jackson forced a fumble which was recovered by Sir’Calvin Wallace putting the Jags in great position to take a two-score lead, but the drive would end with Garvin’s lone mistake when he threw into double coverage and was picked off.
The Aztecs would drive to the Jaguar 17 yard line but the Jags defense held them to a field goal and took a 16-14 lead into the locker room.
The Jags opened up the scoring in the second half on the second play from scrimmage when Gerald Everett wasn’t covered on a pass play and Garvin had time to get it to him then Everett raced down the near sideline 80 yards for the touchdown.
The Aztecs would score one more time after holding USA to a three and out, they would ride Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny more most if not all of the 90 yards on the drive. Once they scored, they went for the two-point conversion and converted to take a 24-21 lead over USA.
South Alabama answered with a drive of their own covering 69 yards taking 11 plays and spanning 6:08 capped off by a 20 yard touchdown reception for Josh Magee. The Jags lead was 28-24 early in the fourth quarter.
Then the Jags broke it open after holding SDSU to a punt, the back-up long snapper snapped it over the punters head. He would fall on it at his own 3 yard line giving the Jags a 1st and goal from there. Ayoola would punch it into the end zone giving the Jags a two-score advantange 35-24.
On the next Aztec possession they methodically drive down the field to the Jaguar 24 before the Jags defense stropped the ball and Devon Earl picked it up and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. But on the play, defensive lineman Sir’Calvin Wallace went down and needed the trainers for the second time in the game. This time they brought the cart out but he refused to be carted off the field and hopped on one leg to the sideline.
The Jags dominated most offensive categories. USA outgained the Aztecs 331 to 316. Jags gained 242 through the air while SDSU threw for 159. Led by Pumphrey, the Aztecs out rushed the Jags 157 to 89. Additionally, the Jags possessed the ball for 33:17 to San Diego’s 26:43.
After a weekend off, the Jags will travel to Arkansas State looking to knotch their first win over the Red Wolves (0-4).
The Jags needed a defensive stop and a drive in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime against the Colonels. Which they did.
Then in overtime, the Jaguars knew both defenses were tired so they ran the ball between the tackles, converting a critical 4th and inches on the drive, all the way to the endzone on the opening possession of overtime.
Nichols first play from scrimmage on their overtime position gashed the Jaguar defense for a big gain. They would eventually punch it into the end zone, but they were not going to go into another overtime period. It was going to end one way or another in the first OT.
On the first 2-point conversion attempt, the Jag defending seemingly intercepted the ball in the endzone but an offsides penalty gave Nichols a second chance from the one-and-a-half yard line. The Jaguar defense was ready for the run and stopped it cold preserving the 41-40 win.
The USA players will have plenty of film to review this week. They should pay close attention to how Nichols took advantage of every Jaguar mishap. It’s not often that a team can overcome four interceptions one a pick-six, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, and a kickoff recovered by the the opposing team.
The Jags dominated in offensive stats: 510 total yards to 230, 208 rushing yards to 161, 302 passing yards to 69, 24 first downs to 12, time of possession 32:16 to 27:44, 8-of-19 on third down to 3-of-13.
But the stat that ultimately determines the outcome was 41-40.
After the Colonels won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, the Jags opened with a 95 yard kickoff return by Xavier Johnson to take a 7-0 only :12 into the game.
Dami Ayoola would score for the Jags very early in the second quarter on a 3 yard run to make it 14-0. The Colonels would return the kickoff 77 yards to the Jaguar 20 but Randy Allen would deliver a painful hit to quarterback Chase Fourcade forcing a fumble that was recovered by Kalen Jackson.
The celebration was short lived though because on the very next play Dallas Davis’ pass is tipped and it falls right into Nichol’s players hands and there was no one in position to catch him.
Momentum had definitely shifted in favor of the visitors after a 49-yard field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown to tie the game up at 14-14. Later a pooch kick would be captured by Nichols in Jaguar territory to help make the 2nd quarter a nightmare for the Jaguars.
Dallas Davis was 25-for-50 with one touchdown and four interceptions and 302 yards. Xavier Johnson finished with 103 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Tyrone Williams lead with 6 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Kevin Kutchera was huge with 4 catches fro 86 yards.
Now the Jags can correct what they see on film this week as they prepare to host their first top-25 ranked team in the nation when the San Diego State Azetecs arrive. The Aztecs look to revenge their loss to the Jags last season, which is the last game they dropped since then, giving them the 2nd longest winning streak in the nation behind Alabama.
The Jags will have to play a clean game, they can’t commit four turnovers and do what they did on special teams and expect to win.
Elijah McGuire led the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns with 223 yards rushing and past the Jags (1-2, 0-2 Sun Belt) 28-23 at Cajun field.
It was a game of big plays.
After a halftime score of 9-7 in favor of Lafayette, the Cajuns scored on plays of 71- and 68-yards in the second half as they outgained South Alabama 512-338 in the game.
It was looking dire with 4:46 left in the third quarter with the Jaguars trailing 22-7 but a 31-yard pass to Kutchera got the offense in gear. A few plays later and quarterback Dallas Davis connected with tight end Grant Powell for an 18-yard touchdown to make it 22-14.
Two plays later Neiko Robinson intercepted the Cajuns pass at the Lafayette 32. Facing third and goal at the 3, the Jags lined up in the wildcat with Tryeis Thomas and Lafayette called a time out to adjust their defense accordingly. The Jags came back with the same formation and Thomas was dropped for a three yard loss. Head coach Joey Jones settled for a field goal to chip away at the Cajun lead at 22-17.
On the next possession, the Jags defense forced another turnover, this time Jeremy Reaves earned the interception at the Jaguar 32 yard line.
McKee pinned the Cajuns at their own 11 yard line but a few plays later McGuire found a hole up the middle of the Jaguar offense and took it 68 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed leaving the Jaguars with an elevent point deficit at 28-17.
After trading possessions, the Jags got their offense in gear again with a 34-yard pass from Dallas Davis to Quinton Lane. Two plays later Davis would connect with Gerald Everett for the touchdown. The two point conversion also failed for the Jags leaving them down 28-23.
Unfortunately, the Jags defense couldn’t get the ball back to the offense for one last shot.
Defensively, the Jags are definitely missing their three injured defensive linemen. What promised to be a strong position with depth suddenly became thin and inexperienced in less than a week during preseason camp.
Offensively, the Jags were inconsistent for a chunk in the middle of the game and the defense got winded opened the door for some of the big plays.
The Jags will look to regroup against Nicholls State next week in the first of a two game home stand. The Colonels lost a close game last week to Georgia 26-24. They need to get more consistent before San Diego State arrives the week after.
The Eagles rushed for 304 yards in the game, yet the Jaguar defense only allowed 24 points in the contest. However the Jaguar offense was unable to find the end zone and could only muster three field goals.
Early in the game the Jaguars, who were already thin on defense, lost Devon Earl after being leveled by a violent blind-side block. In addition, the Jags had other players shaken up at times during the game further compounding the Jaguars woes defensively throughout the game.
But coach Wommack and his players never gave up and were able to hold the Eagles to only 24 points unlike last seasons 55-17 beatdown.
Roman Buchanan, who had a career game with 13 total tackles, said after the game that “There are no moral victories…”, but there was marked improvement on defense.
Offensively the Jaguars were hindered all evening by a stingy Georgia Southern defense who seemed to always be in the right place and delivered some punishing hits.
South Alabama finished the game with 352 yards of offense, only 73 of them were on the ground. Meanwhile the Eagles rolled up 441 yards with 137 of them through the air.
Late in the game the Jaguars were driving to make it a one-score game, but Dallas Davis’ floating pass to the right side of the end zone was picked off fof his first interception of the season.
The Jags (1-1, 0-1 SBC) will travel to Louisiana Lafayette (1-1, 0-0 SBC) looking for their first conference win of the season.
Barely 24 hours removed from the Jaguars most significant win in the short history of the program, it’s still surreal.
Just a few years ago it was a hope and a dream. Today it’s another mark in Jaguar history.
I told people after the Jaguars first trip to Starkville in 2012 and they played with heart and determination but fell 30-10 that I truly believed that South Alabama would take one of the two remaining games against the Bulldogs.
Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent entered the game with the knowledge that the Mississippi State defense was susceptible. Everett and Magee played for him at UAB and they gave the Bulldogs just about everything they could handle, but they came up short. This was his opportunity to try again.
The South Alabama defense, in their first game under the direction of defensive coordinator Kane Wommack and his swarm defense, came out and forced the Bulldog offense into three-and-outs in their first two possessions. But a change at quarterback sparked Mississippi State on their third possession when he completed his first pass for a 19 yard gain into Jaguar territory. A few plays later and the Bulldogs would find the endzone for a 7-0 lead.
The Jaguars under the leadership of sophomore Dallas Davis at quarterback would gash the secondary with some big gains like a 29 yard completion to Gerald Everett to start their drive and completions to Josh Magee for 25 and Tyrone Williams for 12. But their first scoring attempt of a 37 yard field goal from the right hashmark would bounce off of the left upright no good.
Mississippi State would capitalize on the opportunity however. Fred Ross would take the handoff on the first snap 46 yards to the Jaguar 34 and put the Jag defense on their heels. A few plays later and the Bulldogs had put another touchdown on the board to go up 14-0.
After stopping the Jags on their next possession, the Jags narrowly missed recovering a Bulldog mishap after Corliss Waitman’s punt hit off the helmet of a Bulldog blocker at the 35 and taking a Jaguar bounce to the 16, but the same player who caused the fumble would recover the ball.
MSU would drive down to the Jaguar 20 yard line but had to settle for a field goal to make it a 17 point lead.
The Jaguars starting on their own 25 would be led by Dallas Davis again with big completions to Everett for a 23-yards and back-to-back runs by Davis for 3 and 11 yards. Then Davis would connect with Everett against for another 24-yards getting down to the Bulldog 11 yard line. The drive would stall at the 8 yard line and like deja vu the 25-yard field goal would bounce off the right upright leaving the Jags scoreless again.
The Jags came out from halftime with a different demeanor, and it was evident even before the kickoff.
Dallas Davis picked up where he left off in the first half starting off with a 25-yard completion to Magee yards to put the ball at midfield.
After that the Jags did something they couldn’t do in the first half consistently: they began running the ball.
Davis ended the drive in similar fashion as the drive began, Davis to Magee, this time it was a 20-yard touchdown with three Bulldog defenders covering him. Suddenly the Bulldog lead was down to 17-7 and new life in the Jaguars.
Mississippi State would answer with a drive themselves, but this time the Jaguar’s swarm defense stiffened after being gashed on a couple plays and helped by a holding penalty.
Then another sign that the Jaguars were not ready to give up. They started to get pressure on the quarterback.
Two incomplete passes with Damian Williams being hurried caused Dan Mullen to settle for a 48-yard field goal to put the lead at 20-7 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldog special teams had the Jags pinned inside their own 1 yard line with 2:30 left in the quarter. Davis would hand off to Thomas and it looked as if the MSU defense had him stopped for a safety but the shifty Thomas shrugged off the would-be tackler and found room up the middle before cutting to his right towards the sideline for 37 yard gain and giving the offense breathing room. Thomas was only a step or two away from breaking it all the way to the endzone.
Facing 4th and 2 at the Jaguar 47 time would expire in the third quarter.
I don’t know if this even made a difference, but as the teams were swapping sides a well known was played in the stadium.
It was an odd choice for a home team leading 20-7. It was almost as if the mighty SEC team was taunting the little, upstart South Alabama Jaguars. The team some said shouldn’t even be on the field with a team like Mississippi State.
They played what might have been considered an innocent 35 year old song by a band named Journey: “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Just about everyone in the stadium sang along. how can you refrain from lifting your voice whenever it’s played. It may simply be a tradition like Alabama would play “Sweet Home Alabama”.
“Just a small town girl. Livin’ in a lonely world. She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere….”
Davis started the fourth quarter with a six yard completion to Everett on that 4th and 2 play to extend the drive. Two plays later a 23-yard completion to Magee and a gift of 13 yard penalty for a personal foul put the Jags at the Bulldog 12 yard line. Dallas would run for 4 yards to the 8. An offsides on MSU would then put it at the 4 yard line. Then Thomas would take the handoff and punch it in the endzone to make it 20-14 with 12:43 left in the game.
“Just a city boy. Born and raised in south Detroit. He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.”
The Jaguar defense kept up their pressure with quarterback hurries and tight coverage. A pair of Jaguar penalties would aid the Bulldogs but a holding penalty would put MSU behind the down and distance and the Jaguars forced a punt.
“Working hard to get my fill, everybody wants a thrill.”
The Jags went three and out, but the faith never wavered in the stands or the sidelines. MSU with gains of 13 and 23 put them at the Jaguar 21.
Then the Bulldogs faced a 3rd and 10 and again the swarm defense dialed up the pressure and Randy Allen and Tyree Turner sacked Williams for an eight yard loss. Westin Graves misses the field goal attempt from 46 yards wide left.
“Payin’ anything to roll the dice just one more time.”
Davis starts the drive at the Jaguar 29 with back-to-back incompletions intended for Everett. Then on 3rd and 10 he found Kevin Kutchera for 37 yards to the Bulldog 34 yard line.
“Some will win, some will lose. Some were born to sing the blues.”
Facing 3rd and 3 at the Bulldog 27, head coach Joey Jones calls a time out with 3:43 left in the game. After the time out, Davis takes the snap and ran up the middle, hurdled a defender, and eventually went down at the Bulldog 8 yard line. First down Jaguars and the clock keeps running.
“Don’t stop believin'”
Facing 3rd and goal at the 4 Davis steps back and calmly throws a pass to Gerald Everett between two defenders for the the touchdown to tie the game. The contingent of Jaguar fans erupt in jubilant celebration. Gavin Patterson drills the extra point.
Jaguars lead Mississippi state 21-20 in Starkville with :57 left in the game.
Corliss Waitman’s kick would roll out of bound giving Mississippi State an opportunity with the ball on the 35 and still :57 left. The Bulldogs were not going to roll over just yet.
Williams would find Donald Gray for 14 yards to the 49 yard line and got out of bounds to stop the clock. Holloway would run for 8 yards and out of bounds again to stop the clock. Williams to Ross for a loss of one yard and MSU spends a time out with :40 left. Only 17 seconds off the clock.
Williams pass to Gray for eight yards and a first down at the Jaguar 36. Another pass to Holloway for four yards and out of bounds to stop the clock again. Williams would call his own number for 13 yards before Nigel Lawrence stopped him at the Jaguar 19. Williams called his own number again for two more yards then coach Mullen calls a time out with :12 left. Williams runs again for 6 yards to the 11 and the Bulldogs call their final time out with :09 left to attempt the game winning kick.
With the Jaguar fans chanting “Block that kick”, the ball is snapped, Graves put his foot to the leather the ball flies and hits the left upright. He hooked it. The Bulldog fans left in the endzone all fall as if they were struck by lightning. The Jaguars bench empties out onto the field with coach Jones leading the way.
After getting the players off of the field, Dallas Davis took one last snap and kneeled down to allow the clock to expire, the Jags were able to celebrate again.
“Hold on to that feelin'”
Standing in the stands after never missing a home game and traveling to the away games I was able to attent, it was an honor to watch this programs’ biggest victory to date in person. I was emotional. I teared up. I didn’t know what to say other than chant USA with the rest of the fans.
It was years in the making.
It started with Coach Jones and players who believed in his vision even before there was building to house them or a field to practice on. Coach Jones in all of his post-game interviews from SEC Network, to Jaguar Radio, to addressing the crowd gathered to welcome them home at the fieldhouse and again Sunday morning on Fox 10 in Mobile: he praised the players, their character and their heart.
Romello Riley, a 6’3″, 240-pound 19-year-old junior transferring to South Alabama after two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and enrolled in January is hospitalized in New Orleans after collapsing while working out on Friday.
The incident occurred at a fitness club in his hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi and according to GulfLive.com, Riley suffered a stroke due to a blood clot on his brain and has paralysis on the right side of his body. As of the last report Riley was still in critical condition but was expected to be moved to a private room sometime late on Tuesday.
USA head coach Joey Jones released a brief statement to AL.com stating: “First of all, our prayers go out to Romello and his family,” Jones said. “A very tough situation. As a family at South Alabama, especially with our football program, we are very concerned. He’s a great kid who works hard and we’re hoping for the best.”
Healing thoughts and prayers go out to Riley and his family from JagNation.