Jags finish undefeated for second consecutive season

November 14, 2010 · By · Filed Under Uncategorized 

The first ever senior class for the South Alabama Jaguar football team are honored before the game.

The South Alabama football team ended their second season of football the same way they ended their first season, undefeated. However their road was quite a bit different this season from what it was last year. After a particularly impressive first season, the coaches and administration agreed that they needed to up the level of competition for season number two. Thus they scheduled all four year institutions with some very tough tests including Lamar, UC-Davis and Georgia State.

This second season culminated in a Thursday night game against Arkansas-Monticello in front of 14,904 fans strong and the Jaguars did not disappoint.

The Jags had a pre-game ceremony to honor South Alabama’s first senior class. Twelve Jaguars were honored, Sean Ceballos (Mobile), Rodney Watson (Mobile), Cory Pittman (Chickasaw), Justin Dunn (McCalla, AL), Tim Harvey (Evanston, IL), Charlie Higgenbotham (Birmingham, AL), John Mark Patrick (Jay, FL), Rob Powell-Deppe (Chicago, IL), Courtney Smith (New Orleans, LA), Brennan Sim (Portland, OR), Ralph Turner (Dothan, AL) and Michael Wilson (Monroe, LA). They came to a program that had nothing and lead the way to back-to-back undefeated seasons, going 17-0. Additionally, they honored Anthony Mostella, who would have been a senior as well, but who had passed away in the summer.

The first quarter was uneventful. No points were scored in the first quarter for either team, which was a first for the Jaguars this season and their first time since facing Georgia Military. Actually the first five possessions were punts. The Jaguars third drive began with a pass interference penalty, putting the Jags in Boll Weevil territory. This would be followed by a facemask penalty after CJ Bennett ran for six yards, placing the ball at the Boll Weevil 27 yard line. But after getting down to the 14 yard line, a seven yard sack and an incomplete pass later, the Jags were lining up a 38 yard field goal attempt, which went wide left for Lawson McGlon with 9:02 left in the second quarter.

Two more punts, one by each team followed before Arkansas-Monticello mounted a drive. Nakita Myles rushed for six yards then quarterback Scott Buisson completed a pass that would go for 54 yards down to the Jaguar 16 yard line. A five yard rush to the 11 would be offset by a six yard sack. Then on third down the Boll Weevils could only manage two yards. The field goal attempt would fly wide right giving the Jaguars the ball at their own 20 yard line with 2:52 left until halftime.

The Jags first play would be an incomplete pass intended for Courtney Smith, then coach Joey Jones would call a time out. After the time out, Bennett would connect with Kendall Houston for 28 yards out to the USA 48 yard line. The next play was a completion to Jereme Jones for 16 more yards down to the UAM 36 yard line. After rushing for four more yards, Bennett would hit Courtney Smith for eight more yards and a Jaguar first down at the UAM 24 yard line. After an incomplete pass intended for Corey Waldon, Arkansas-Monticello calls a time out with 56 seconds left until halftime.

After the time out, Bennett would complete another pass to Courtney Smith for 16 yards down to the eight yard line and another first down. Bennett would rush for two yards down to the six yard line and the Jags would use another time out with 21 seconds left. Bennett would float a pass to Corey Waldon, but it would fall incomplete. Then Bennett would find Jereme Jones in the end zone for the 6 yard touchdown pass with 21 seconds remaining until halftime to take a 7-0 lead into halftime.

The Jaguars received the opening kickoff to start the second half and TJ Glover was quick to spark the Jags and the fans with a 60 yard kickoff return to the UAM 31 yard line. Kendall Houston then took the first hand off 16 yards down to the UAM 15. Two more rushes by Houston would net 2 and 3 yards respectively to bring up 3rd and 5 at the UAM 10. Bennett’s pass to Waldon would fall incomplete then Lawson McGlon would drill the 27 yard field goal to extend the Jaguar lead to 10-0 with 12:41 left in the 3rd quarter.

Arkansas-Monticello would respond on it’s next possession, driving 76 yards in 7 plays. Two big runs for 17 and 34 yards would account for the majority of the drive for the Boll Weevil touchdown and cutting the Jaguar lead to 10-7 with 8:49 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Jags would not let the Boll Weevils score go unanswered though. A short kickoff by UAM would be returned to the 40 yard line where CJ Bennett would connect with Courtney Smith for 43 yards down to the UAM 17 yard line. Houston would follow up with a 13 yard rush to get down to the Boll Weevil 4 yard line. After a rush by Houston for no gain and an incomplete pass intended for Kevin Helms, Arkansas-Monticello would call a time out with 6:58 left in the 3rd quarter. On 3rd and goal from the 4 after the timeout, Bennett would find Helms for the touchdown to extend the lead back to ten points at 17-7.

On the Boll Weevils ensuing possession, Buisson would rush for 8 yards but would then be intercepted by Ken Barefield and would give the ball back to the Jaguars offense at the USA 49 yard line. Bennett’s first pass would go to Courtney Smith for a 19 yard gain down to the UAM 32 yard line. His second attempt would fall incomplete and his third would be intercepted at at the 20 and returned 20 yards back to the UAM 40 then lateraled to a teammate who carried it to the 50 yard line, but would then fumble it and the Boll Weevils would recover it at the UAM 45 yard line.

On the possession by the Boll Weevils, they would face a 4th and 1 from the USA 46 yard line. Then Romelle Jones would drop Nakita Myles for a 3 yard loss to turn the ball over on downs.

TJ Clover would start the drive with a nine yard rush to the UAM 42 yard line. Kendall Houston would then bust loose for a 38 yard gain down to the UAM 4 yard line. Then he would finish off the job with a 4 yard run into the endzone, extending the Jaguar lead to 24-7 with 2:27 left in the 3rd quarter.

Michel Chapuseaux’s kick would be fielded at the UAM 4 then returned 32 yards out to the 36 yard line. Buisson would rush for the first down for 14 yards to the mid-field stripe. Nikita Myles would rush for a yard then get stopped for no gain to bring up 4th and 1 at the USA 41 yard line. But Andy Dalgleish would dropped Myles for a loss of one to turn the ball over on downs again.

Santuan McGee would open the drive as well as close the book on the 3rd quarter with a six yard rush out near mid-field at the 48 yard line. McGee would take the next handoff for four more yards and a Jaguar first down at the UAM 48. Then a pass interference penalty would be flagged on UAM to put the ball at the UAM 33 yard line. A five yard rush by McGee would be wiped away on a holding penalty puts the ball back at the UAM 46 yard line. Facing 1st and 23, Bennett would throw back to back incompletions. On 3rd and 23, Bennett would would find some open turf and gain the need 23 yards to keep the drive alive at the UAM 23 yard line.

TJ Glover would rush for 6 yards but the Jaguar offense would be flagged once again for holding to put the ball back at the UAM 27 yard line for 1st and 14. CJ Bennett would then connect with Paul Bennett for 12 yards to the UAM 15 yard line. Houston would then run for 5 yards and the first down at the Boll Weevil 6 yard line. Then TJ Glover would take it in for the final score by the Jags in the game. Extending their lead to 31-7 with 10:50 left in the game.

Back to back punts by Arkansas-Monticello and South Alabama would give the Boll Weevile the ball back with 7:37 left in the game. Facing 3rd and 6 at the Jaguar 44, Anton Graphenreed would pick off the Scott Buisson pass at the 29 and return it three yards to the USA 32 yard line.

Back to back rushes by Ellis Hill would lose 1 yard and gain three respectively before the Jags would call a timeout with 3:44 left in the game. Facing 3rd and 8 at the USA 34 yard line, Myles Gibbon’s pass would be intercepted along the sideline and returned 25 yards to the Jaguar 11 yard line.

Buisson would rush for five yards down to the Jaguar 6 yard line. Then Greg Taylor would rush for five more yards down to the Jaguar 1 yard line before Coach Jones would call his final timeout of the game. Romelle Jones and Justin Dunn would combine to stop Taylor for no gain on 1st and goal. Then Justin Dunn would dive through and sack Buisson for a four yard loss on the next play. Arkansas-Monticello would call a time out facing 3rd and goal at the USA 5 yard line. Buisson would complete his next pass to Taylor for the touchdown to cut end the scoring for the final score of 31-14.

Enrique Williams and Randon Carnathan would get special moments by rushing the ball to help run down the final 1:30 of the game with Brennan Sim under center.

The Jags would put up 180 yards on the ground and 220 through the air for 400 yards of total offense. While the Jaguar defense would allow 206 yards on the ground and only 102 through the air for 308 total yards.

Kendall Houston would rush 16 times for 104 yards and a touchdown to be the Jaguars leading rusher. Quarterback Scott Buisson would rush for 91 yards to be the Boll Weevil’s leading rusher.

CJ Bennett went 16-of-29 for 222 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Brennan Sim, in his last game, went 1-of-2 for -2 yards. While Myles Gibbon went 0-for-1 with his only attempt being intercepted.

Senior Courtney Smith caught 10 passes for 141 yards to lead all receivers in the game and to finish out his career with South Alabama in the spotlight. His 141 yards receiving was just enough to edge out Kendall Houston’s 104 yards rushing and 28 yard receiving for the most all-purpose yards for the Jags.

Jerron Mitchell lead all Jaguars with eight total stops with Justin Dunn one behind with 7 including a tackle for loss and a sack to end his Jaguar career as well. Charlie Higgenbotham was one of three Jags to have six stops.

Coach Jones spoke after the game saying, “Arkansas-Monticello had a great game plan. We came out the second half and adjusted. I was real proud of the coaches making good adjustments, and also for the players for not panicking out on the field.”

“I think it’s tremendous that these young men have put together two seasons like that back-to-back,” Coach Jones continues. “It really speaks for their character and the hard work they put into it. My staff has done a tremendous job; they’re a great staff and really know the game and love the players. The biggest thing I see about our team right now is we have a belief in each other. When you believe in each other, great things are going to happen. That started a long time ago, and over time it has gotten better and better.”

Coach Jones also spoke about Courtney Smith, “Courtney has been the face of our program in some ways. He came in and has done a tremendous job. It’s great that he can go out on a note like that. But most of all, I’m just proud of Courtney and the type of person he’s become. He has become a leader; he was voted one of our captains this morning by the team. I’m real proud of him for the character he’s shown. Some of the things they ran defensively gave us some opportunities to get him the ball.  It just worked out that way tonight.”

Wide Receiver Courtney Smith commented after the game, “I wasn’t worried about getting the ball. I was thinking about when the clock expired, there would be no more South Alabama football for me. I don’t know if it was the coverage, but my coach just kept giving me the ball and I just kept making plays for my teammates. Without the offensive line and the quarterbacks, no one would see me catch the ball, so I want to thank them.”

Justin Dunn commented after the game, “We knew they had a good option attack coming into the game. Their quarterback having the most yards in the state of Arkansas was one of the stats our coaches threw out today before we started to play. We knew he was going to be a good athlete, and an option attack is all about assignments. We came out at first, made little adjustments here and there and it cost us on some of our assignments. We came back toward the end, got it figured out and took care of all of our assignments.”

“I didn’t know what to expect when I came here,” Senior Linebacker Charlie Higgenbotham said. “Looking back, it was the scariest day of my life. I didn’t know anyone here. It has been an amazing experience, and it’s a sign that something really special is happening here. This team has really come together in two years, and people don’t realize how hard that is. My challenge to the team is for them to keep it going.”

The Jags will be classifed as FCS next season and will, once again, step up in competition with big road games against FBS (Division I) opponents Kent State and NC State. But before then, the Jaguar staff is turning their focus on recruiting and the players will continue to get bigger and stronger for the challenges ahead. But the season will begin once again in over nine months when South Alabama kicks off the 2011 season on a Thursday September 1st at Ladd-Peebles Stadium against West Alabama.

However West Alabama will be without legendary coach Bobby Wallace, who announced his retirement at the end of the season. Wallace lead UNA to three consecutive Division II national Championships in 93-95. He then left for Temple in 1998 and could not manage to turn them around, going 19-71 in 8 seasons. He then returned to Division II in 2006 and lead West Alabama to their first winning season in 14 years and their first playoff appearance in 34 years. He will be inducted into the Division II hall of fame on December 12.

Again, thanks to the Seniors who bought into a new program and gave the coaches and the school a chance. Your experience and leadership on a team full of youngsters is what helped this program get to where it is today. Your contributions will be what continues to help this program proceed along the path to Division I success.

Go Jags!!


2 Responses to “Jags finish undefeated for second consecutive season”

  1. Geoff on November 15th, 2010 2:53 pm

    Nice post. Only thing I’d correct is that NC State and Kent State are FBS schools and not FCS

  2. Brian on November 19th, 2010 10:22 pm

    That’s what I get for rushing a post. Thanks!

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