Jags Lose Heartbreaker On Kick As Time Expires
The South Alabama Jaguars fell to Southern Utah on a 28-yard field goal by Colton Cook as time expired 22-21 Thursday night at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. This is the Jaguars second loss in a season opener game in the last two seasons. Similarly, Texas-San Antonio defeated the Jags on a field goal with 16-seconds remaining in the game a year ago.
The Jags started the game with two first downs in their first three plays before a pass interference penalty on Wes Saxton turned what would have been a 20-yard completion into a 3rd and 25 that the Jags could not convert. Garber’s 41-yard punt would put the Thunderbirds at their own 23 yard line to begin.
Southern Utah start quickly with a 12 play 61 yard drive to get the first points of the game on a 33 yard field goal by Colton Cook.
On the ensuing kickoff, T.J. Glover would pick up the ball after a bounce and return it down the left side for 43 yards to the Jaguar 48 yard line. JuCo transfer Cris Dinham woudl open the drive with a four yard rush before Ross Metheny would find Jereme Jones for an 11 yard completion for a first down and extending his consecutive game with a reception streak. After an incomplete pass to Saxton, Metheny would find Juco tranfer Shavarz Smith for 13 yards to the Thunderbird 20 yard line. Dinham would rush for another five yards before Jay Jones would get stopped for no gain. On Third and five at the SU 15 yard line, Metheny would get sacked by Zak Browning for a nine yard loss. Aleem Sunanon’s 41 yard field goal attempt would sail wide right.
On the first play of the Southern Utah drive Montell Garner would be flagged for pass interference with the ball being placed at the spot of the foul the Thunderbirds would have it first and 10 at their won 38 yard line. Aaron Cantu would find Alphin open and he would scamper for 54 yards to the Jaguar 8 yard line. After a Thunderbird time out, RaySean Martin would run on back-to-back plays for 7 yards and one yard to score the touchdown to put the Thunderbirds ahead 10-0 with 1:16 left in the first quarter.
The Jags would get one first down on their next drive before being forced to punt. The Thunderbird returner would call for a fair catch at their own 11 yard line.
The Jags would hold SU to a three-and-out giving the Jags great field position at the SU 43 after a 30 yard punt by Brock Miller.
Brandon Bridge would take over at quarterback for the second quarter. The drive would open with an 11 yard rush by Jay Jones followed by a 12 yard run by Bridge to move the ball down to the SU 20 yard line. After two incomplete passes to Saxton and Rush Hendrix, the Jags would call a time out. Bridge would run for 1 yard on 3rd and 10 then Coach Jones would opt for a 37 yard field goal attempt by Sunanon which was blocked. Very frustratingly Chris May would be flagged for an personal foul tacking on another 15 yards to give the Thunderbirds great field position at their 44 yard line.
Cantu would complete a 12 yard pass to the Jaguar 38 yard line to convert on 3rd and 4. But on the next play Cantu would be sacked and he would fumble the ball and inadvertently kicked down the field that Southern Utah would eventually recover after a 27 yard loss to face 2nd and 37 from their own 35 yard line. THeir situation would be complicated further after a false start backed them up five more yards for 2nd and 42 at their own 30 yard line. After a loss of two and a gain of one on back-to-back rushes, the Thunderbirds would be forced to punt on 4th and 43 from their own 29 yard line.
South Alabama would begin their drive at their won 28 yard line after the 43 yard punt is downed by T.J. Glover. Bridge would complete a pass to Dinham for four yards before handing it off to him again for one yard. On 3rd and 5, Bridge would find Danny Woodson Jr for 10 yards out to the USA 43. Bridge would run for four yards on first down before connecting with Smith for 13 yards to the SU 40 yard line. Bridge would take the snap and take off for a 40 yard touchdown to put the Jags on the board but still trailing the Thunderbirds 10-7 with 4:37 left in the first half.
The second half would begin the same as the first half for the Thunderbirds. After the Jags stopped SU on third down to force a 4th and 2, a fake punt would net 26 yards and a first down at the Jaguar 28 for the Thunderbirds. The Jags would hold again but Cook would connect on a 37 yard field goal to extend their lead to 13-7 at the 11:15 mark in the 3rd quarter.
The Jags would respond on their ensuing possession with Jay Jones opening with a 9 yard rush out to the USA 36 yard line. Two plays later, Jones would run up the middle for 57 yards to the SU 4 yard line before being caught. Kendall Houston would run for three yards and no gain on back-to-back carries. SU would call a time out before Randon Carnathan would get a carry into the end zone. After the time out facing 3rd and goal at the 1, Rush Hendrix would be called for a false start to back them up to the 6 yard line. Metheny would find Jereme Jones on a slant for a six yard touchdown. The point after would put the Jags up 14-13 with 7:38 left in the quarter.
A roughing the passer on the touchdown play would put the kickoff at the 50, but Hendrix would be flagged for an off-sides on the kickoff. The rekick from the USA 45 would be fair caught at the Thunderbird 11 to give them worse field position.
The Jaguar defense would force SU to go three-and-out in back-to-back possessions. The Jags would begin their drive at the USA 36 with 1:23 left in the third quarter. Dinham would run on three-consecutive plays for 4, 8 and -1 yards respectively. Metheny would find Woodson open for a 33 yard gain down to the SU 20 yard line before being forced out of bounds. Two plays later Metheny would find Woodson again for a 20 yard touchdown down the left sideline to put the Jaguars up 21-13 with 14:47 left in the game.
The game would be a bit of a stalemate until close to midway through the quarter. On 3rd and 9 at their own 23 yard line, Bridge’s pass intended for Hendrix would be intercepted at the USA 43 yard line.
SU would capitalize on the mistake. After a 7-yard sack on Cantu by Maleki Harris, Cantu would find Griff McNabb open for a 44 yard gain to the Jaguar 6 yard line. Three plays later Cantu would find an open receiver for the touchdown. Their two-point conversion attempt would fall incomplete to leave the Jaguars up 21-19.
The Jags would go three-and-out on the next possession giving the Thunderbirds the ball with 4:43 left in the game.
Martin would rush for 6 then 9 yards on back-to-back carries out to the 50 yard line. They would steadily match down the field with a big 16 yard pass completion to put them at the Jaguar 27 yard line. The Jags would take a time out with 42 seconds left with the ball at the Jag 22. Malik Brown would rush for 13 yards to the Jaguar 9 yard line. After a two yard loss the Thunderbirds would let the clock run down before taking a timeout with 2 seconds left in the game. Cook would connected on the 28 yard field goal to end the game. Southern Utah 22 – USA 21.
The Jags would end the game with 16 first down to SU’s 14. Offensively the Jags put up 335 yards of total offense with 187 coming on the ground and 148 through the air. The Jags were 5-of-14 on third down.
The Jags defense allowed 317 total yards of offense with 183 yards passing and 134 yards rushing. SU converted five of their 15 third downs.
Jay Jones would lead the rushing attack with 92 yards on 9 carries. Bridge would add 60 yards on 7 carries, Dinham had 22 yards on 7 carries, Houston 17 yards on five carries, Metheny had 11 yards on three carries adn Valentin had one yard on 3 carries.
Shavarez Smith and Jereme Jones both caught five passes for 52 and 26 yards respectively with Jones getting the only touchdown of the two. Woodson would catch three for 63 yards and a touchdown. Five other Jags would catch a pass in the game.
Ross Metheny would go 12-of-17 for 112 yards and two touchdowns and a sack. Bridge would finish 6-of-11 for 36 yards and an interception.
Southern Utah’s Raysean Martin would rush for 110 yards on 23 carries for a game high. Cantu went 13-of-24 for 183 yards and a touchdown with three sacks. McNabb and Norris would catch 4 passes each for 77 and 20 yards respectively to highlight the receiving corps for SU.
“I want to congratulate Southern Utah for winning the ballgame,” said head coach Joey Jones. “We didn’t have a ton of mistakes, but they made the plays in the fourth quarter when they had to and ended up beating us. My hat’s off to them.”
“It’s a big disappointment. Any time you lose it’s a disappointment,” Jones said. “There’s nothing I can say in there to make them or myself feel any better. We lost a very important ballgame tonight. We’re a better team, but we have to look at ourselves and evaluate what we’re doing. We’re going to have to win some close games to have a good year, and that was one we let slip by.”
“We’re a better football team than that,” Ross Metheny stated. “We’re going to put a better product on the field, and like I said, we’ll just go back and learn. There’s two things we can do with this, we can either use it, learn from it and go forward, or we can tuck our tails and not benefit from it. I promise you that number two is not an option.”
The Jags will next play on the road in New Orleans against Tulane on Saturday, September 7 at 2:30pm in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.