Jags drop second straight game on the road

September 25, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football 

Coach Turner working with the offensive line between series.

The Jaguars football team put itself in an almost impossible position at Kent State on Saturday. The Golden Flashes held a 26-0 advantage at halftime and lead 33-0 early in the 3rd quarter before the Jaguars mounted a comeback.

South Alabama’s comeback was valiant and furious but fell 23 yards short of a potential game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion, 33-25 in the first of three meetings between these two schools. The Jaguars fall to 2-2 on the season after losing for the second week in a row to an FBS team. The Golden Flashes improve to 1-3 with their first victory of the season.

The Jags were behind 7-0 in the first quarter, but allowed 19 points in the second quarter to fall behind 26-0 at halftime to end the worst half of football in the programs short history to date. Defensively, South Alabama was being pushed off the ball giving the Kent State quarterback time in the pocket, opening gaps for running backs and throwing lanes for the receivers. Offensively, the Kent State defensive was causing fits for the offensive line, closing gaps when the running back got there and had tight coverage on the receivers.

The first quarter appeared to be a defensive standoff. South Alabama totalled five yards on nine plays. Four rushes netted 2 yards and 2-of-5 passing netted 3 yards. Kent State rushed 16 times for 53 yards and was 2-of-4 passing for 21 yards. The Jags only possessed the ball for 4:21 in that first quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same. The Jags rushed five times for 14 yards and was 3-of-11 passing for 25 yards and two interceptions while only possessing the ball for 5:38 in the quarter.

The halftime stats was demonstrative of how the first half went. Kent State scored 26 points with 13 first downs. Rushed 31 times for 142 yards while going 6-of-11 passing for 56 yards and no interceptions. They were 7-of-11 on third down conversions while only being were flagged twice for 20 yards. They held the ball for 20:01.

South Alabama on the other hand, has only two first downs. They rushed nine times for 16 yards and was 5-of-16 passing for 28 yards and two interceptions. The Jags punted five times for an average of 43.2 yards per punt. They were penalized three times for 36 yards and also went 1-of-7 on third down conversions.

After forcing the Kent State offense to punt on a three and out to start the second half, Kendall Houston would be caught behind the line and fumble the ball. The Golden Flashes would pick it up and return it 27 yards to the Jaguar 11 yard line. Two plays later they would make it 33-0 with 11:36 left in the 3rd quarter.

This is when the Jaguars finally came to life. Demetre Baker would spark the team with a 37 yard kick return to put the Jags at their own 40 yard line. Bennett would find Corey Besteda for 37 yards to the Kent 23 yard line. Bennett would then run the draw for another 18 yards to the Kent 5 yard line. Kendall Houston would gain three on the first down play. Bennett would try to find Kevin Helms in the end zone but it fell incomplete, then facing 3rd and goal at the 2 yard line, Coach Jones calls a time out with 9:48 left in the quarter. Out of the time out, Bennett would give the ball to Baker who would take it in for the first Jags points of the game. Jordan Means would add the PAT to make it 33-7.

After a 17 yard kick return, Kent State would start at their own 18 yard line against a rested and rejuvinated defense after halftime. After a two yard rush and an incomplete pass, Kent State quarterback Spencer Keith would find his receiver for an 18 yard pass but Jake Johnson would force a fumble that would be recovered by Ken Barefield at the Kent State 42 yard line.

Bennett would throw an incomplete pass to begin the series but would run a quarterback keeper for 11 yards and a first down at the Kent State 31 yard line. Baker would lose a yard on first down, but Bennett would find Kevin Helms this time for 21 yards to the Kent State 11 yard line. Back to back rushes by Baker would gain 3 yards and no gain. Kent State would call a time out with 5:28 left facing a third down and 7 and their 8 yard line. Bennett’s pass to Bryant Lavender would fall incompleted and the Jags would settle for a 25 yard field goal by Jordan Means to inch closer, 33-10.

Kent State’s next drive started at their 28 yard line and would manage one first down and span five plays and 17 yards taking 1:54 off the clock. A short is fielded by Jereme Jones at the Jaguar 22 yard line and returned 7 yards to the 29.

Bennett would loft up a big pass to Bryant Lavender spanning 61 yards to the Kent State 10 yard line. Lavender would fumble and the Jags would recover it at the 10. Houston would rush for five yards to the 5 yard line, but would give four of it back on the next play. On 3rd and goal Bennett’s pass to Waldon would go incomplete. A bold but necessary move to put points on the board led to Coach JOnes’ decision to go for it on fourth down. Bennett would find his clutch receiver Jereme Jones in the end zone for the touchdown with 1:05 left in the third quarter. Means would add the PAT to shrink the lead to 33-17.

A 28 yard kick return would put Kent State at their own 37 yard line to start their next possession. A short pass for two yards and a one yard rush
would end the quarter.

Starting the fourth quarter, Kent State faced a third down and 7. Keith’s pass would fall incomplete forcing the Golden Flashes to punt again. Jereme Jones would field the punt at the 13 yard line and return it 15 yards to put the Jags in business at their 28 yard line.

Again the Jaguar offense came out with momentum. Bennett would find Lavender for 7 yards, then Baker would rush for five more yards to the Jaguar 40 yard line and a first down. Then Bennett would find his go to receiver Bryant Lavender for 19 yards to get into Kent territory at their 41 yard line. Bennett would run for six yards, Baker would rush for 13 and a first down at the Kent 22. Houston would rush for six yards and Bennett would run for seven more and another Jaguar first down. Houston would rush for four more yards to the Kent 5 yard line. But two consecutive incomplete passes would force another fourth down decision for Coach Jones. Bennett’s pass to his clutch receiver would fall incomplete and turn the ball over on downs to Kent State.

Kent would go three and out after only gaining 8 yards during the possession. Jereme Jones would field the punt at the Jaguar 45 and return it eight yards to the Kent State 47 yard line.

Another big pass play from Bennett to Waldon would cover 42 yards to the Kent 5 yard line. A substitution infraction would move the ball to the three yard line. Houston would rush for one yard then Baker would punch it in on second down. Playing catch-up with the points, the Jags went for the two-point conversion and Bennett would find Kevin Helms in the left side of the end zone to pull within one score of the Golden Flashes at 33-25.

Kent State would return the kickoff to the 22 yard line and start their drive with 5:59 left in the game. The defense and coaches knew that they were going to give the ball to their big running back Trayion Durham, which they did. On first down the ran for 3 yards however Damond Smith would be flagged for a personal foul giving the Golden Flashes 15 extra yards out to their 40 yard line and a first down. Durham would rush for one yard on first down then on the next play he would rush for nine, but Kent State would be flagged for a personal foul themselves, thus backing them up to their 26 yard line facing second down.

Durham would rush again for two yards on second down. Rob Hollomon would rush for eight more yards on third and 22 and the Jags would call a time out with 3:22 left before the Kent State punt. Jereme Jones would receive the punt at the Jaguar 19 yard line and return it 10 yards.

On first down, Bennett’s pass would fall incomplete intended for Waldon. The second down pass intended for Lavender would also fall incomplete. Bennett’s third down pass would be intercepted at the Jaguar 47 yard line and returned one yard. However, the Jags didn’t give up.

On first down Durham rushed for three yards and the clock was running since the South Alabama was out of time outs. Durham rushed for two yards on second down. Then Anthony Meray would be stopped for no gain at the Jaguar 43 yard line. Kent State would let the play clock expire before punting.

After a touchback, the Jags started at their own 20 yard line with 29 seconds and 80 yards between them an possibly tying the game. Bennett’s pass intended for Lamontis Gardner fell incomplete on first down. Then his pass intended for Greg Hollinger would also fall incomplete. On third down Bennett would find Jereme Jones open for 23 yards and a first down out to the Jaguar 43 yard line. The offense would rush to the line and spike the ball stopping the clock with 4 seconds showing. Bennett would run around and eventually toss up a ball that would be caught by Corey Besteda but he would be caught trying to get to the left sidelines at the Kent State 23 yard line ending the game.

The final stats was much better than the halftime stats. Jags would have 14 first downs to Kent’s 16. The Jags would gain 93 yards on 27 rushing attempts for a 3.4 yard per rush average. Kent State would rush 49 times for 187 yards for a 3.8 yard per rush average.

Jags quarterbacks would go 14-of-38 for 281 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Kent State would go 10-of-19 for 94 yards and a touchdown. The Jags would outgain the Golden Flashes 374 yards to 281. Kent would win the time of possession 34:59 to the Jags 25:01.

C.J. Bennett would be the leading rusher with five rushes for 40 yards. Demetre Baker would have 10 touches for 28 yards, Kendall Houston had 11 touches for 23 yards and Myles Gibbon ran once for two yards in the first half.

Bennett got the most passing stats going 14-of-36 for 281 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Gibbon threw once and it was incomplete. Bryant Lavender caught five passes for 97 yards, Jereme Jones had three for 31 yards and a touchdown. Besteda has two for 71 yards, Kevin Helms had two for 32 yards and Waldon and Gardner had one catch each for 42 and 8 yards respectively.

The Jaguar defense held Durham to 72 yards on 27 carries and Anthony Meray to 64 yards on 13 carries.

Defensively Jake Johnson totalled 17 tackles, 6 solo and a forced fumble. Ken Barefield totalled 10 tackles, 4 solo and a fumble recovery. No Jag recorded a sack. Kent State only got one sack.

The average field position was interesting. In the first quarter, the Jags average field position was the Jaguar 15 to Kent State’s Jaguar 46 yard line. It improved in the second quarter where the Jags averaged their own 32 while Kent averaged their own 41 yard line. The third quarter, the Jags averaged the Jaguar 42 yard line to Kent State’s own 38 yard line. Then the fourth quarter the Jags averaged their own 32 and Kent’s worst of the game, their own 26 yard line.

Coach Jones commented after the game. “The first half was just a comedy of errors.  We fell behind 26-0 at halftime, but we talked to them and they came out ready to play,” he said.  “I didn’t think we were ready to play early, and I take the blame on that. But the field position was horrible in the first half, and turnovers and all of the things we talk about that we can’t do we had happen. In the second half, we came back and played our football and started moving the ball, scoring and the defense started stopping them. We played a good second half, but came up just a little bit short. I’m real proud of the way they came back. Most teams beat themselves and I keep preaching that, we just have to make sure we avoid doing that.”

Talking about the second half adjustments he and his staff made, Coach Jones said, “We changed a few things in the running game, and made some checks and started running toward the boundary. That helped us, and we started pitching and catching it pretty good. But we just got some momentum; we never got any momentum in the first half.”

South Alabama gets a much needed week off before hitting the road again for their road game against the University of Texas San-Antonio on October 8th. This game is currently scheduled to be aired on the Longhorn Network.

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