Jags Fall To Troy In Final Seconds 34-33
South Alabama traveled to Troy for their first time and only their second game between the two schools in football on Saturday. It was a hard fought game, but Troy scored the winning touchdown with seven seconds remaining in the game to send the Jaguars home with a 34-33 loss.
The Jags fought back from a double-digit deficit in the second half and finally take their first lead of the game with just :48 left in the game. But the ending of the game was an example of how experience and perseverance wins games.
It was Troy who struck first in the game after receiving the opening kickoff of the game. They used a 12 play, 73 yard drive which spanned 4:12 that was capped off with a nine yard touchdown pass from quarterback Deon Anthony to Bryan Holmes to take the 7-0 lead.
The Jaguars answered right back with a drive of their own going 75 yards in 12 plays and 4:47 to tie the Trojans at 7 in the first quarter. Two key plays on the drive were when the Jaguars were facing 2nd and 28 at their own 28 yard line. Metheny connected with Saxton to gain 14 and cut the needed yardage in half. Then on the next play, Metheney then connected with Danny Woodson for 11 yard, but a fumble would roll forward and be recovered by Jereme Jones at the Troy 34 for a first down.
The scored would stay tied until early in the second quarter when Troy’s Deon Anthony connected with Eric Thomas on a 62 yard touchdown pass with 13:53 left in the second quarter. The drive covered 70 yards in five plays and only took 1:42 off the clock.
USA would be unable to do anything on their next drive and gave Troy the ball with fairly good field position after a 33 yard punt.
Troy would then march it down the field in 11 plays to cover the 63 yards in 4:57 to score their second touchdown of the game to take a 17-7 lead.
South Alabama would attempt to score prior to going to the locker room for halftime, but Brandon Bridge would be forced to run on 3rd and 6 at the Troy 7, but would only be able to manage to gain two yards. Head coach Joey Jones would opt to go for the field goal, but Aleem Sunanon’s attempt from the right hashmark would sail right of the upright.
The Jags would open the second half with a three-and-out and after a 50 yard punt by Scott Garber, Troy would be forced to start at their own 30 yard line.
The Trojans would only need five plays and 1:38 to drive the 70 yards for the touchdown to put the Jags behind 24-7. But there was still lots of time to play.
South Alabama would answer with another drive of their own. It would begin with a 37 yard kickoff return by T.J. Glover. Bridge would connect with tight end Wes Saxton for a 34 yard gain to the Troy 29 yard line. A few plays later it would be Jay Jones scoring on a 10 yard rush to put the Jags back on the board. However, Sunanon’s extra point would be blocked to leave the Jaguars trailing 24-13 with 10:05 left in the third quarter.
With Troy trying to drive and facing 3rd and 4 at the Jaguar 46, Romelle Jones sacked Corey Robinson for a 10 yard loss to force them to punt. Glover would field the punt at the Jaguar 7 and return it five yards to the 12 yard line.
The Jags would drive again late in the third quarter but would face a 4th and 4 at the Trojan 19 yard line. Coach Jones would opt for the field goal again, but it would miss wide right again, however an offsides call would give the Jags a first down at the Troy 14. A couple plays later, the Jags would face a 4th and 1 at the Troy 5. Jones would call on Trey Fetner to go for it for the second time in the game. However, Fetner would get stopped short of the first down to give the Trojans the ball back with 13:29 left in the game.
The Jags would force a three-and-out as Troy escaped a possible safety when two holding penalties were called on 3rd and 9, but none of them occurred in the end zone. The Troy punt would be downed by T.J. Glover at the Jaguar 44 yard line after being booted 50 yards.
It would not take long for the Jags to respond either. After an incomplete pass on first down, Bridge would connect with Bryant Laveder on the left sideline and he would break loose for a 56 yard touchdown to cut the Trojan lead to 24-19. Ross Metheny would enter the game on the two-point conversion attempt, but his pass would fall incomplete in the end zone.
Sunanon’s kickoff would be fielded at the eight yard line and returned 51 yards to the Jaguar 41 yard line. But the Jags defense would force another three-and-out and a punt.
USA would take over at their own six yard line after the punt rolls out of bounds. But the Jags would not be able to get anything going and would go three-and-out themselves. Scott Garber’s punt would be caught at the Jaguar 46, but the returner would lose five yards on the return.
Troy would drive down to the Jaguar 6 yard line, but the Jags would hold them to a 23 yard field goal as the Trojans lead would increase to 27-19 with 5:22 left in the game.
The Jags would begin their drive at their own 26 after Glover returned the kickoff 26 yards out of the end zone. With Ross Metheny back in at quarterback, the Jags would drive down the field to the Troy 16 yard line with a 1st and 10. Metheny would see an opening up the middle and he would exploit it all the way to the end zone. Again, the two-point conversion would fail and leave the Jags trailing the Trojans 27-25 with 2:51 left in the game.
Troy, expecting the Jags to kick an onsides kick, would only send one player deep to field the kickoff. Sunanon’s kick would be fielded at the Troy 8 yard line and he would slide down at the 17 to prevent a possible turnover.
The Jags defense would be helped out by Troy as incomplete passes and players going out of bounds would stop the clock with the Jags only using two of their three time outs. The Troy punt would roll down to the Jaguar 1 yard line with 1:27 left in the game.
A personal foul for targting on Troy’s Deon Anthony would eject him from the game and move the ball out to the Jaguar 16 yard line. Metheny would connect with Jay Jones for nine yards before he stepped out of bound at the Jaguar 25 yard line. Metheny would call his own number and run up the middle for 10 yards and a first down at the Jaguar 35 yard line.
Then Metheny would throw down the left sideline picking on the corner that replaced the ejected player. The defender would tip the ball and fall down but the tipped ball would fall into Jereme Jones’ arms and he would have nothing but turf between him and the end zone to get the go-ahead touchdown. Metheny would then connect with Corey Besteda to convert the two-point conversion to take a 33-27 lead with :48 second left in the game.
However the Jaguar celebration was a bit premature.
Sunanon’s kickoff would be fielded at the 3 yard line and returned 26 yards to the Troy 29. Robinson would connect with Holmes for 11 yards then Burks for seven more yards before calling a time out with :25 left and the ball at the Jaguar 48 yard line.
Robinson would then complete passes to Williams for nine yards and Burks again for 19 yards before the clock stopped as he went out of bounds at the Jaguar 20 yard line. Defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer then called an all-out blitz that was a split second away from getting to the quarterback, but Robinson was able to get the ball away in time. Qudarius Ford would do everything to keep Thomas from catching the ball, but his effort, an obvious pass interference, did not work as he came down with the ball and ruled a touchdown with :07 left in the game. The extra point put the Trojans up 34-33.
Brandon Bridge would get one chance with :01 second left from his own 32 yard line. The Trojan rush had him roll to his left and heave a prayer down the field. Shavarez Smith would come down with it at the Troy 18, but the Jags was unable to get it into the end zone.
South Alabama put up record numbers in the loss with 630 yards of total offense and 471 yards through the air.
South Alabama had 30 first downs compared to Troy’s 24. They out rushed the Trojans 159-129, out passed the Trojans 471-305 for the total yardage totals of 630-434.
South Alabama also held a 32:11 – 27:49 advantage in time-of-possession. Though, the Jaguars only converted 7 of 16 third downs and 1 of 3 fourth downs.
Ross Metheny was the leading rusher for the Jags with 10 attempts for 55 yards, but close behind him was Brandon Bridge with 54 yards on 11 carries. Jay Jones added 44 yards on 13 carries with Cris Dinham adding 19 on six carries.
Passing Ross Metheny went 15-of-21 for 236 yards and a touchdown and was sacked once. Bridge went 11-of-20 for 235 yards and a touchdown.
Shavarez Smith led the receivers with 106 yards on six catches. Wes Saxton added 95 yards on six catches, Jereme Jones had 84 yards on three catches with a touchdown, Bryant Lavender added 68 yards on three catches, Danny Woodson had 61 yards on three catches, Jay Jones added 43 yards on four catches and Dinham caught one pass for 14 yards.
Corey Robinson went 20-of-26 for 210 yards and two touchdowns while being sacked three times. Anthony went 4-of-8 for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Burks rushed 17 times for 100 yards, Anthony rushed 10 times for 38 yards and Jordan Chunn added 26 yards on six carries.
Eric Holmes gained 129 yards receiving with five catches and two touchdowns. Holmes added 93 yards on six catches with two touchdowns. Six other Trojans catch passes.
Sunanon was 1-of-2 in PAT attempts and missed his only official field goal attempt. Though he did attempt a second that did not count due to offsides penalty by Troy.
Maleki Harris led the Jags with nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Romelle collected four tackles with two sack for a 24 yards.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Coach Jones said after the game. “With 40-plus seconds left in the game when you go up six points you feel good about it. My hat’s off to the guys in our locker room, they’ve got a lot of fight in them. We’re a way better football team than we were last year, they proved that today. But credit to Troy for making that last drive and putting it in the end
“When I talked to them after the game, I told them we can’t expect to put ourselves in a hole and win on the road,” he continued. “We had some penalties in the first half, with a block below the waist after returning a kickoff past the 50 and three offensive holding calls killing drives. We haven’t really been called for that many penalties [this season], but we have been putting ourselves behind. It’s tough to win a ballgame when you do that on the road.”
“We aren’t going to quit, I can promise you that. You can get that out of everyone’s mind. I’m damn sure not going to quit, and these kids aren’t either. Does it hurt? Heck yeah it hurts, if you’re a competitor you’re going to hurt after that one.”
Quarterback Ross Metheny spoke about the drive that gave the Jaguars their first and only lead of the game. “Offensively, getting the ball on the 99 1/2-yard line and being able to go that length and make a big play there – Jeremé made a big play. That speaks volumes for our offense about how we didn’t quit. We kept battling trying to respond to adversity. We did a good job up front all day long, so my hat’s off to those guys. It’s heartbreaking – you put yourself in a position to be successful but Troy did a good job coming out on that last drive and making some plays to end up winning the game.”
Romelle Jones spoke about the game by saying, “Our Achilles heel all season has been that we haven’t been able to start fast. If we can start fast, it will be a lot easier on us in the second half. We always seem to put a burden on ourselves, but it’s just too late at times.”
“The mentality of this team is you don’t quit,” Romelle said about the Jags coming from behind in the fourth quarter. “It’s just the way we’re built. The core guys on this team are built like that, and all you can do is reflect those core guys.”
Then Jones pointed out what many fans also believe about this team, “It seems like every week we go in at halftime and make our adjustments, and we come out angry and motivated. If we could play like that for four quarters, I don’t think we can be beat.”
The Jags drop their second consecutive game to fall to 2-3 on the season and 1-1 on Sun Belt play. Troy breaks their three game losing streak to even their record to 3-3 on the season and even their conference record at 1-1 on the season. Troy travels to Georgia State next Saturday while the Jags have a week off before hosting Kent State for homecoming on October 19.