Jags Fall To Arkansas State 17-16
South Alabama experienced another heart breaker of a game with yet another 1-point loss, though it did not occur in the final seconds like the previous ones. No, the final score was made with about six-and-a-half minutes left in the game and the Jaguars could not muster an answer.
The first quarter was a defensive stalemate as neither team could manage to put points on the board. Only Arkansas State managed to cross the midfield stripe during that first quarter, but the drive would end at the Jaguar 15 yard line on a fumble.
The Jags would put the first points on the board with 10:55 left in the second quarter when they kicked a 27 yard field goal. USA would add another field goal with 1:34 left until halftime when the Jags could not manage to get into the endzone from inside the five yard line.
South Alabama took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched down the field helped by a 42 yard completion from Ross Metheny to Shavarez Smith to put the ball at the Red Wolves 18 yard line. The Jags would have a third and 14 from the ASU 22 and Metheny’s pass would sail high and be intercepted in the end zone.
Arkansas State would mostly keep the ball on the ground on their ensuing possession and the Jags would be nearly powerless to stop it. Maleki Harris had left the game with a shoulder injury and key defensive linemen had been hobbled with injuries which the Red Wolves exploited beautifully. Quarterback Adam Kennedy accounted for 40 yards of the 80 yard drive by himself on the ground, including the final 12 yards for the touchdown.
South Alabama would respond with a drive of their own after a 34 yard kickoff return by T.J. Glover to started the offense at the USA 35 yard line. A pass interference call against Arkansas State in the end zone would place the ball at the 2 yard line, where Kendall Houston would punch it in and give the Jags the lead once again at 13-7.
The Red Wolves would drive down to the Jaguar 27 as the third quarter ended. Then, to begin the fourth quarter, Kennedy would be sacked by Alex Page for a six yard loss but Brian Davis would kick a beautiful 50 yard field goal to split the uprights and cut the Jaguar lead to 13-10 with 14:12 left in the game.
South Alabama would add a 30-yard field goal on their next possession when the Jags could not convert 3rd and 9 at the Red Wolves 18 yard line. USA held a 16-10 advantage with 9:58 left in the game.
Sunanon’s kickoff would go into the endzone for a touchback to put the Red Wolves at their own 25 yard line to start. The nine-play drive would consist of all runs but two which was capped off by a Sirgregory Thornton three yard touchdown run to put the Red Wolves up 17-16 with 6:29 left in the game.
The Jags drive would start on a positive note with Metheny runs for nine and two yards to gain a first down. But back-to-back incompletions, the first a wide-open pass to Shavarez Smith on the sideline could not be controlled as he fell to the ground, then Smith dropping screen pass that hit him in the hands, would force a 3rd and 10 at their own 36 yard line. Metheny would try to escape pressure but Darrius Rosser would grab ahold of his jersey and would not let go to pull Metheny down for an eight yard sack.
Garber would be called on to punt. He would delay to let his coverage run downfield as he was not pressured, but his short kick would stop dead when the nose of the football hit the turf at the ASU 37 yard line.
The Jaguar defense would hold strong and force a punt to give the offense one more shot with 3:17 left in the game.
Starting at their own 9 yard line, Metheny would open with a pass to Jereme Jones but it would be incomplete stopping the clock. Metheny would run for five yards before connecting with Bryant Lavender for a 20 yard strike to move the ball out to the Jaguar 34 yard line. An incomplete pass to Smith would be followed up with a five yard completion to Lavender to make it a 3rd and 5. An incomplete pass intended for Lavender would make it fourth down. Then Metheny would be pressured out of the pocket and he could not get the ball to Jereme Jones to turn the ball over on downs with 1:53 left in the game to effectively end it.
The Jaguars would outgain the Red Wolves 371 to 349 in total yards. The Jags would hold the edge through the air 228 to 160 but ASU would rush for 189 to the Jags 143.
Metheny would end up being the leading rusher in the game with 77 yards on 17 attempts. Jay Jones would add 44 yards on 11 carries and Kendall Houston would gain 14 yards on five carries with a touchdown.
Wes Saxton caught four passes, the most for the Jaguars, for 49 yards. Shavarez Smith caught three for 77 yards, Danny Woodson caught two for 54. Lavender, Jay Jones and Jereme Jones all caught two passes each. Jereme Jones extended his consecutive game with a pass reception streak to 35 games.
Metheny would go 15-of-29 for 228 yards and one interception. Adam Kennedy would go 15-of-17 for 136 yards and Fredi Knighten would go 6-of-8 for 24 yards for the Red Wolves.
“It’s getting tough to walk in the locker room when you lose close games like that,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “We played a good ballgame overall. There were some things we could have done better, but we obviously lost it in the fourth quarter again and that’s tough to take. We have a bunch of guys hurting right now.”
“I’ve never seen a team improve as much as they have and not see the rewards,” he continued. “That’s the thing that hurts me most, because I feel like we’re much improved as a team from last year to this year. It’s not even close. But it’s not showing up in the win column, and that’s the bottom line.”
South Alabama has their third and final bye week of the season before traveling to face Navy on November 16. The bye week will be much needed as a few Jaguars on defense are nursing nagging injuries.