South wins shootout against Henderson State 37-31
CJ Bennett looks on as Kendall Houston runs the ball in the second half of the Jaguars win over Henderson State.
South Alabama came away with the homecoming victory in a shootout on Saturday against Henderson State, 37-31. It wasn’t unexpected by anyone who looked at the numbers really. Both teams averaged over 425 yards per game. It was just that the Reddies are a Division-II team from Arkansas, not a team that most people in the Southeast would normally hear about unless you lived in Arkansas.
CJ Bennett went 20-of-26 passing for 280 yards for the Jags with Kendall Houston adding 140 yards in a record offensive game for South Alabama. The Jags totaled 542 yards for the game.
Henderson State, whose offensive strong point happened to match up with the Jaguars defensive weakness, went after the Jaguar secondary. Two season ending injuries in the secondary has left the Jags without any sense of comfortable depth, which the Reddies exploited to the tune of 359 yards on their quarterback’s 23-of-43 performance.
Bennett spread the ball around well by connecting with nine difference receivers with six of them having multiple receptions in the game. TJ Glover lead the receiving corps with five catches for 78 yards and a new career high of 189 all-purpose yards. However, Bennett also took three sacks in the game.
Houston carried the ball 27 times for the 140 yards which marks his fourth 100 yard game of the season. The three other running backs 99 yards on 9 carries.
Special teams had some high points and some low points. The kickoff squad gave up two returns to the end zone, however one was called back on a block in the back, saving a touchdown. Darius Davis ending the game with 5 returns for 186 yards, his touchdown went for 93 yards.
On the other side, Scott Garber averaged 59 yards per punt with both being touchbacks. Lawson McGlon made three of four attempts, including a career long 40 yard field goal as time running down in the 3rd quarter. McGlon attempted a 43 yard kick at the end of the first half, however it was rushed and came up short, so it’s hard to count that against him.
The 43 yard attempt came after the Jags were in a great position at the Henderson State 12 yard line with 3rd and six after calling a time out. However Bennett took a 14 yard sack and with the Jags without any remaining time outs, had to rush the field goal unit onto the field to hastily attempt the kick. Coach Jones was visibly annoyed by the turn of events on those two plays.
Coach Jones said after the game, “I want to congratulate Henderson State for playing a very good football game. We knew watching on film that they were a very good team. But I probably didn’t do a great job of getting the team ready in my opinion. That’s probably the first time since I’ve been here that I didn’t think we were 100 percent sharp like we normally are. And I’ll take the blame for that. We can make all the excuses we want, but the bottom line is there are no excuses. That’s not to take anything away from Henderson State, they have a great football team. I kept trying to tell our team, and I guess they didn’t hear that.”
He continued, “We knew they were good on film. They’ve been throwing for 400 yards all year long, so it didn’t surprise us. Their quarterback is a really good player and puts the ball on the money; that worried us going into this game. We knew that they had some really good receivers and some good athletes on that team.”
However a day later after reviewing the game field, Coach Jones had more to say about the game and how his players played in the game. “It’s always, when you feel terrible in a game and after a game, when you go back and look at the tape, it’s a lot better than you thought it was. And when you think it was great, you go back and look at the tape and realize it was a lot worse than you thought it was. It was that way. We played really hard and did a lot of great things. We had some bad plays and did some bad things, but if you take those five or six plays out of the game we played a really, really good game. So, I was really pleased after I watched the film, much more so than I was Saturday night.”
The Jags have played eight consecutive games since their open date after the season opening game against Pikeville College. With injuries and fatigue, the Jags are definitely looking forward to the end of their second season on Thursday night. With a short preparation and hopefully a refocusing on the job at hand, I think the Jags second undefeated season is within grasp. But as the old adage goes, “never count your eggs before they hatch.”
The Jags will host Arkansas-Monticello on Thursday evening with kickoff scheduled for 6:00pm at Ladd-Peebles stadium.
Go Jags! Beat those Boll Weevils!!