South Alabama Defeats Georgia State 38-17 To Keep Bowl Hopes Alive
The South Alabama football team defeated Georgia State 38-17 in the Georgia Dome behind a record-setting performance by wide receiver Shavarez Smith.
After adjusting to the Panthers gameplan, the Jaguars took over the game and never looked back as Smith caught 10 passes, tying a school record, and gaining 194 yards receiving including a touchdown. Jay Jones scored twice as they led the Jaguar offensive attack behind Ross Metheny’s direction.
Jay Jones rushed for his first career 100-yard game of his career by gaining 102 yards on 17 attempts as he scored the first two touchdowns of the game.
The Jaguar defense continued their performance from last week as they limited the Panthers to only 24 yards on 25 rushing attempts while recording four sacks for a loss of 18 yards.
Romelle Jones continues to shine in his senior season as he recorded 2.5 tackles for loss as part of his four tackles while forcing a fumble late in the first quarter. Jerome McClain equalled his career high of five tackles with a sack. Pat Moore recordd a sack while Clifton Crews and Montavious williams combined for the other Jaguar sack.
Qudarius FOrd led the defense with eight tackles with Terrell Brigham adding six tackles himself.
After figuring out the Panthers scheme from their first drive, the Jags took their second possession 62 yards in seven plays to put the first points on the board. The drive opened with a 17 yard completion from Metheny to Lavender. A few plays later as the Jags were facing a 3rd and 1, Jay Jones would gain 22 yards up the middle. He would then carry the ball on the next three plays with the final one spanning five yards for the touchdown. Jones accounted for 37 of the 62 yards of the drive.
On the next possession, Shavarez Smith caught Metheny’s pass on a slant pattern but the GSU defense would force a fumble as he was fighting for extra yards. The Jags would get the ball back when Enrique Williams forced a fumble that was recovered by Maleki Harris at the Panther 42 yard line.
The Jags would double their advantage when Jones punched it in from 17 yards out with about 2:30 left in the opening quarter.
With 6:20 left in the half, Metheny would record his 10th touchdown of the season as they took a 21-3 lead. WIth a 3rd and 6 at the USA 44, Metheny found Smith open for a 20 yard gain for a first down. Next he found Jereme Jones open for 24 more yards. Facing fourth an inches from inside the one yard line, Metheny jumped over the top of line to secure the touchdown.
The Jags would add a 42-yard field goal with 0:34 seconds left in the opening half as he converted his ninth consecutive attempt to set a school record for consecutive conversions. Metheny found Smith for completions for 15 and 10 yards for back-to-back first downs on the drive.
USA added to their point total with just over a minute left in the third quarter when Kendall Houston scored from a yard out to make the score 38-10.
The Jaguar defense did a good job containing Albert Wilson for most of the game, but a 62-yard punt return set the Panthers up for their first points of the game from a 33-yard field goal with over 13 minutes left in the second quarter.
An 80 yard completion from quarterback Ronnie Bell to Robert Davis put the Panthers at the one yard line that would lead to the Panthers first touchdown of the game mid way through the third quarter. The Panthers would add a second touchdown with three minutes left in the game when they converted a fourth and goal from the one yard line to make the final score 38-17.
This game was a must-win for the Jaguars to keep their bowl-eligibility hopes alive for their first season as a full FBS member.
“I thought our kids prepared really well this week,” head coach Joey Jones said. “Georgia State had been playing really well, my hat’s off to them the way they have gotten better this year, but our guys just came out and played really well today. They prepared and came out with some emotion and had a good game.”
“Shavarez is just a playmaker, he is so strong getting the ball,” Jones explained. “He makes play after play after play every game. When we have to have a big play, No. 1 comes up big for us.”
“This [upcoming] game is going to give guys something more to play for, something you can dig deep down inside and pull out when you have that much riding on a game. It’s going to be a big one next week,” Romelle Jones explained after the game.
The stands will need to be filled with Jaguar fans as USA will be hosting the top team in the Sun Belt Conference in Lousiana-Lafayette. Though they lost on Saturday, they will be looking to get a win of their own to secure the conference championship. This game may prove to be a classic in Jaguar history.
South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette are set to kick off at 7pm CST at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday, December 7.