South Alabama falls to Navy 42-40

November 29, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Jaguar seniors pose at midfield with head coach Joey Jones prior to their final home game against Navy.

Jaguar seniors pose at midfield with head coach Joey Jones prior to their final home game against Navy.

South Alabama converted two out of three 2-point conversion attempts, but suffered questionable penalties and did not convert the one that counted as the Jaguars fell to Navy 42-40 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

USA opened the game with an eight play, 73-yard drive to quickly take the lead. They recovered a Navy fumble and added a field goal to take a 10-0 lead at the 8:10 mark of the first quarter.

South Alabama looked to be firmly in control of the game after stopping the midshipmen on a 4th-and-1, but quarterback Brandon Bridge gave the ball right back to them when he floated a pass to a Navy defender. Two plays later the Midshipmen got on the scoreboard at the 4:56 mark of the first quarter.

The Jaguars responded with a nine play, 74 yard drive before Navy gained momentum and scored 21-unaswered points.

The Jaguars opted to kick a field goal late in the third quarter getting within eight points of Navy 28-20 with 3:43 left. Navy responded with a touchdown by quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who set a record today for the most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

Again South Alabama responded early in the fourth quarter after recovering a Navy fumble and giving themselves the short field with 11:33 left in the game.

Keenan Reynolds added another touchdown to the record books to go up 42-27 with 8:22 left. Navy and Jaguar fans alike thought the game was all but over.

Brandon Bridge loaded up and threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Shavarez Smith to pull within eight of Navy with 5:31 left in the game. Navy had good field position after a short kickoff failed to allow the Jaguars a chance to recover the kick.

On 3rd and 9, Montell Garner forced Navy to fumble the ball for the third time in the game and the Jaguars recovered. Bridge successfully moved the chains on fourth down and found Jereme Jones for a 10-yard touchdown with only 39-seconds remaining for a score of 42-40.

Then theatrics began.

On the first attempt at a 2-point conversion, Bridge completed a pass over the middle, but a flag for ineligible receiver down field backed up USA to the 8 yard line for a second attempt.

On the second attempt, Brandon took the snap and rolled out to his left under pressure. He sprinted towards the end zone when he saw no one between him and the goal line. He leaped over a Navy defender around the 3 yard line and tumbled into the end zone, but this time it was negated by a hold.

On the third attempt from the 18 yard line, Navy blitzed and forced Bridge to roll to his left again, but this time he threw off-balance to the right side of the end zone and it was short for Shavarez Smith and intercepted three yards into the end zone.

Navy out gained South Alabama 430-415 and added 388 yards to their nation-leading total. The Jags rushed for 238 yards and threw for 177 more.

Terrance Timmons rushed 15 times for 124 yards and a touchdown as Kendall Houston added 80 yards on 21 carries for the Jaguars. Brandon Bridge went 19-of-28 for 172 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Hunter Vaughn went 2-of-3 for 5 yards.

Shavarez Smith caught six passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Danny Woodson caught five for 49 yards and a touchdown and Jereme Jones caught three passes for 21 yards and a touchdown.

Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran 10 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns. Noah Copeland rushed 17 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Swain ran nine times for 64 yards and a touchdown for the midshipmen. Reynolds was 1-of-4 passing for 42 yards.

The Midshipmen earned bowl-eligible status ahead of their annual season finale game against Army. South Alabama will wait to see if they receive a bowl invitation. The likely candidates for an invite include the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile or the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery.

Happy Thanksgiving #JagNation

November 27, 2014 · By · Filed Under Commentary · Comment 


Happy Thanksgiving to all of JagNation!

Come out and support your Jaguars on Friday for their 2pm game against Navy at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Reminder: If you ride the shuttle, it will be operating from Lipscomb Field on Michael Blvd. NOT Bel Air Mall. Shuttles will begin at 10AM and will continue until 90 minutes after the game is over.

Go Jags! Beat Navy!

Monday Press Conference – Navy Edition

November 25, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 

newjagsmallSouth Alabama head football coach Joey Jones was joined by defensive back Terrell Brigham and offensive lineman Melvin Meggs when he met with the media for their weekly press conference. They recapped the Jaguars loss at South Carolina and previewed Friday’s regular-season finale against Navy.

Coach Jones’ on Senior Day. “We had a great meeting about our seniors Sunday. We voted for permanent team captains, which will be released on game day Friday. Some of the guys came in here in 2010, which was the second year of our program. They came in and helped build this dream of where we are now – our second year in Division I and being bowl eligible and hopefully getting in a bowl (game). Our guys have done a great job of leading this football team and getting to that point. Our seniors are certainly a huge part of that.”

Jones on the team’s mindset entering this week. “I told the team on Sunday that I was extremely proud of the way they played. Now, do we need to take care of the football? Yes, we have to be able to do that. But they played hard with intensity and passion and without fear. They did all those things. Minus a few turnovers, and I think the game is different. And I’m sure they (South Carolina) would say the same thing. They turned the ball over five times as well. But other than that, I thought our kids played extremely hard. I was proud of them. So mindset-wise, we played the way we were supposed to play minus a few exceptions there. Going into this week, everyone understands the Navy offense and how good and disciplined they are. We have to be a very disciplined ball team this week, and be a team that is not intimidated by what they do. We need to go out there and play well. We have guys who can make plays and go out there and not make mistakes, so I always tell them most teams lose ball games – they don’t win them. We have to keep from losing it; I think that’s any team. You have to stay away from those mistakes.”

Jones talks about defending Navy’s triple option attack. “Fundamentally, we’re telling our guys to play your assignment and we should be good. That’s what we need to do defensively, and that’s one thing our coaching staff has done in trying to put our game plan in – let’s not get overwhelmed by what they’re doing. Are they good at it? Yeah. Is it a different offense? Yeah, but what we’re asking you (defense) to do is the same thing we ask you to do all the time which is play good technique football.”

Jones talks about hosting Navy in Mobile. “I’m honored to have them come to Mobile. (Former USA Director of Athletics) Joe Gottfried kind of set this game up in the first year or so. Getting a program like Navy to come here is a big deal. We want to play teams like that. We went out against South Carolina, and even though we didn’t win, we played well. We need to play better, but when you play team like Navy – they’re a nationally-known team that took Notre Dame down to the wire and beat Georgia Southern last week. They’re a very good football team and everyone knows it. If you can somehow get in there and beat them, it becomes something you put on the wall forever in a place like ours. So it’s a great opportunity for us.”

Jones on the differences between Navy and Georgia Southern, the other triple-option offense the Jaguars faced this season. “Philosophy-wise it’s the same. They do most everything under center. They do some things from the shotgun. Georgia Southern was completely out of the shotgun. So it does change things a little. Our kids are a little more comfortable seeing a quarterback in shotgun as opposed to under center, but it’s triple-option football either way you put it. They (Navy) probably don’t throw it quite as much, and there are more cut blocks that our defense has to endure – but that’s football.”

Jones on Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. “He’s their best athlete on offense. He has the ball in his hands every play, and he’s making a play. He’s a good one. I noticed last year when they played Western Kentucky, he got hurt and they scored seven points. The rest of the year they’re probably averaging 38 or 40 points per game. That’s how much difference he makes on that football team. He makes the right reads, he’s smart, he can run it, and if you put too many people in the box he can throw it past you. It’s kind of a deal where our defense has to decide what to do. We’re not going to be able to guess right all the time, but we have to be smart about what we do and not give up any big plays.”

Jones talks about this senior class. “The thing that makes you feel good about these guys, a lot of these guys came here in 2010 and some of them took a chance on South Alabama at that point and now here they are leading this team in Division I football and hopefully into a bowl game. That’s the thing that I prayed about in the offseason, was that these guys could get honored in that way. I wanted to win a conference championship as well, but the second thing was getting in a bowl. I can’t tell you how gratifying it was after that Texas State game for them to come through, and know that they made themselves bowl eligible. That senior class that came in here and took a chance and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to get in a bowl one day.’ Hopefully that’s going to happen in 2014.”

Jones on the team’s progress from the first game of the season to this point. “We’re a lot better football team now, obviously. I think our defense has really grown into a great defense. I think our defense was solid to good early in the year. But I think we have turned into a great defense. I consider this a great defense on the Sun Belt level. Offensively, we have struggled at times. We’ve turned the ball over too much lately, but at times we have looked like a million dollars. We had a three-game stretch earlier in the season where we were moving it pretty good. We beat Appalachian State and had 40 points by the third quarter, and you look at what they’re doing now; they’re a good football team. We were playing some good football there for a while, we just have to get back to that and execute better offensively.”

Offensive lineman Melvin Meggs talks about senior day. “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been here five years, so we’ve been through a lot, and it’s finally winding down. It’s surreal, and I’m a little taken back by it, but the vibe is good; we all know what we have to do this Friday. It’s another game that we have to prepare for and get ready to execute.”

Meggs talks about playing a nationally-recognized program in Navy. “That’s what you play for – the games under the big lights. What better way to end it? They play hard, they don’t quit. You just have to face it; that’s the team that’s on the schedule next. We’ve just got to go back to our basics, sharpening our fundamentals. We’ll play hard and play with good technique, and the best men win.”

Meggs talks about the memories he will take with him from his time at South Alabama. “We were very honored to have grown up under senior classes that included Justin Dunn and Charlie Higgenbotham, amongst others. Those guys taught us how to do it the right way. As a freshman, you feed off that and subconsciously take those qualities yourself. Hopefully, that keeps rolling on and becomes the culture around South Alabama. We had our ups and downs over the years, but we’re kind of a relentless program. You hit us in the mouth; we’re going to come back. The coaches have done a great job of bringing guys here that have what we call the ‘Heart of a Jaguar.'”

Defensive back Terrell Brigham talks about senior day. “We’ve been doing this for five years, since the beginning years of the program. We came here to play the top competition.”

Brigham talks about his role against Navy’s triple-option coming up on Friday. “[Studying] film this week is key. You have to pay attention to your keys every Saturday, of course, but this week you have to be disciplined with your eyes, knowing who you’ve got and what you have to do on any given play. They also chop block, and you have to work on that in practice.”

South Alabama and Navy will begin at 2pm on Friday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. There will be a slight change in parking and shuttle service due to Black Friday shopping. Instead of parking and riding the shuttle from Bel Air Mall, the shuttle service will be running from Lipscomb Field located on Michael Boulevard just off of Montlimar Drive. Service will begin four hours prior to kickoff and will end 90 minutes after the conclusion of the game. The cost will remain the same, $2.50 round trip per person.

The address is 3610 Michael Blvd, Mobile, AL 36609.

Jags Fall to South Carolina 37-12

November 24, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Defensive coordinator Travis Pearson works works with the defense between series on the sidelines in Columbia, SC.

Defensive coordinator Travis Pearson works works with the defense between series on the sidelines in Columbia, SC.

South Alabama and South Carolina combined for 10 turnovers, five each, but the Gamecocks were too much for the Jaguars as they won 37-12 in Columbia, SC.

It was a tale of two halves. In the first half the Jaguars dominated the time of possession with a 20:45 to 9:15 edge, but trailed 17-9 on the scoreboard despite the Jaguars throwing three interceptions in the second quarter.

But it was in the red zone where the Jaguars struggled the most. They reached the two yard line twice early in the game but each time had to settle for field goals. Three of the four field goals by the Jaguars were inside 30 yards and the fourth was from 31 yards out.

The momentum shifted in the second quarter when Hunter Vaughn floated a pass out to the left flat and Gamecock Brison Williams picked it off and returned 21 yards for a touchdown. At that point USC was up 17-6 with 8:58 left in the second quarter. From that point forward, the Jaguar offense seemed to go from confident to desperate.

Up to that point, the Jaguars had put together two drives of 14 plays each and consuming over six minutes per drive, though each ended with field goals rather than touchdowns.

The pick six began a string of three consecutive possessions where the Jaguars possessions would end with interceptions.

Brandon Bridge came in late in the first half to relieve Vaughn and only attempted one pass, but drove the Jaguars down to the 2 yard line and settled for a field goal with two seconds left in the half. But Vaughn would return to the game in the fourth quarter.

At halftime the Jaguars had out gained the Gamecocks 207-193 and had run almost double the offensive plays than the Gamecocks (45-24).

But second half was all Gamecocks as they outscored the Jaguars 20-3.

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Preview: Jaguars and Gamecocks

November 20, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 


What: South Alabama Jaguars (6-4) at South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5)

Where: Columbia, SC. Williams-Brice Stadium

When: Saturday, kickoff 11AM CST.

How to Watch: Fox Sports South

How to Listen: Lite Mix 99.9FM in Mobile, iHeartRadio platform

Line: South Carolina by 25.5

South Alabama travels to Columbia, SC to take on the Ol’ Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, and his South Carolina Gamecocks. This is the second SEC team the Jaguars have faced this season. They lost their home-opener to Mississippi State 35-3.

But the Jaguars have come a long way since that game and have clinched bowl eligibility. The only thing left is to finish the regular season, hopefully with a bang. What a bang it would be to sneak a win out of Columbia!

But the Jaguars will have to play a near flawless game to do it. Against Texas State they overcame four turnovers, three of them being fumbles on three-consecutive possessions all in their own territory. But the Jaguar defense only allowed 10 points off of those three turnovers. They won’t be so lucky against an SEC team.

In their first five wins of the season, the Jags only turned the ball over twice. In their four losses they have turned the ball over 11 times. Bottom line, they have to protect the ball.

In all six of their wins they have rushed for over 150 yards in each of them. They probably won’t be able to just start out running the ball against the Gamecocks, so they will have to used their passing game to make the defense play honest and allow some running lanes to open up. USA likes to test defenses deep and if they can complete some of those passes that will go a long way to help open up the running game.

Hunter Vaughn stepped up big time against Texas State. He has prepared this week as if he’s going to be the starter because it is unknown if Brandon Bridge will be back 100% from his injury. The decision on who will start at quarterback will probably be announced just prior to kickoff. Teams routinely utilize graduate assistants to pour through social media and websites to glean any tidbit of information that may help their team.

Each team has had ups and downs. South Carolina was picked as one of the top SEC teams and to compete for the SEC East crown, but right now getting bowl eligible for their 10th consecutive season is their goal. Coach Spurrier keeps getting asked about his future at South Carolina, they wonder if he will even be there in 2015. These questions and their upcoming game next weekend against rival Clemson could have the team looking beyond this fledgeling football team from the Sun Belt coming into Williams-Brice Stadium.

That could work in the Jaguars favor.

If they could get some early success, score points, convert third-downs and rest the defense, they could make it a long day for South Carolina. And with a little luck the Jaguars could come out with a win.

But rest assured those boys from the South will be playing their hearts out in Columbia.

Go Jags!

USA v Navy has Kickoff Time

November 19, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

Jags_vs_NavySouth Alabama announced the kickoff time for their regular-season finale against Navy at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The Friday, November 28th game, the day after Thanksgiving, will begin at 2pm CST.

The Game will be broadcast on ESPN3 as well as over the radio via Lite Mix 99.9FM and the iHeartRadio app.

Navy is 5-5 after a convincing win over Georgia Southern last weekend. The midshipmen have the week off before traveling to Mobile to face the Jaguars. They will then play their annual regular-season finale against Army on December 6.

Colby Sawyer Named Honorary SBC Player of the Week; Monday Press Conference – USC Edition

November 18, 2014 · By · Filed Under Cross Country, Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 
Colby Sawyer with South Alabama student-athletes during his visit with coach Jones and and the team prior to the Monday press conference. | Photo:

Colby Sawyer with South Alabama student-athletes during his visit with coach Jones and and the team prior to the Monday press conference. | Photo:

The Sun Belt Conference named 11-year-old Colby Sawyer the Honorary Sun Belt Football Player of the Week on Monday. Sawyer, an inspiration to the Jaguar football team, signed his National Letter of Intent with the program a week ago and joined head coach Joey Jones for his weekly press conference, made his first appearance with the team on Saturday against Texas State.

Sawyer signed with the Jags as part of Team Impact which helps match kids with chronic or life-threatening illnesses to teams. He was diagnosed in June of 2012 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and had over a year of chemotherapy treatments as a patient at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.

After signing with the Jags he received his own locker, jersey and other USA team items. He was with the team during their bus trip to the stadium, through pregame warm-ups, and when Coach Jones was addressing the team. He was also led the team out onto the field. And he was also on the sidelines when the Jaguars rallied from 10 points down and held on in the final seconds to defeat Texas State to earn bowl eligibility and most likely their first bowl invitation.

Derek Westbrook, who is a member of the student athlete advisory committee (SAAC), had a part in helping to make this possible. The senior attended the Sun Belt’s SAAC conference this past summer in New Orleans as a representative from South Alabama. He was also recognized during halftime recently as being a member of the South Alabama Cross Country team who won the SBC Title this season.

“Colby has impressed all of us throughout the Sun Belt with his spirit for the Jags and his inspiration to the team,” Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said. “Colby is unquestionably deserving of this award and all of the recognition that he has received.”

Team IMPACT’s mission is to match kids facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses with teams throughout the United States. So far they have placed 560 kids with 280 schools in 37 states, one of their latest being Sawyer.

Press Conference

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Jags Basketball Face Golden Eagles Tonight in Hattiesburg

November 17, 2014 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's · Comment 

Jags_bballAfter defeating Carroll to being the season, the Jaguars travel to Southern Miss as they try to go 2-0 on the season.

The Jags used a late run to defeat Carroll 85-64 as the Golden Eagles used a strong second half to defeat William Carey 86-63.

Southern Miss has a new coach this season. Doc Sadler has a career record of 150-107 in his ninth season as a head coach. USM is ranked #138 in the Sagarin ratings while the Jaguars are ranked #280.

The Jags only shot 45.3% against Carroll on Friday night however the Jags won the rebounding battle 38-27 with 19 offensive rebounds. Freshman Abdul Lewis led the Jags in rebounding with 10 in his first career game. All 10 game in the first hald in 11 minutes of play. Augustine Rubit was the last Jaguar to pull down double-digit rebounds in his first-ever game in 2010.

Junior John Brown led all players with 22 points, 14 of them came in the second half where he made all four 3-point attempts. He also went 6-of-6 from the foul line.

The Jags look to improve on their 10-36 all-time record in road openers where they have lost 18 of their last 20. They broke an 11-game string in 2012-2013 when they defeated then #24 ranked Florida State 76-71 in Tallahassee.

The Jags and Golden Eagles are set to tipoff at 7pm in Hattiesburg. The game can be heard on WNTM 710 AM with J.D. Byers calling the play-by-play.

Jaguar Soccer Fell to #2 Florida State 5-0 on Friday in first round of NCAA Tournament Play

November 17, 2014 · By · Filed Under NCAA, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

USA_SoccerThe University of South Alabama soccer team fell to #2 Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, 5-0.

The Jags started off strong by holding the Seminoles scoreless through the first 44 minutes of the match, but a goal with 0:38 remaining in the opening half gave them momentum which they seized and never looked back.

FSU got goals from five different players while goalkeeper Cassie Miller was forced into making only one save as the Seminoles outshot the Jaguars 23-2 and also came out on top in the corner count 11-0.

FSU’s first goal came on a header after an in-swinger from the byline just before halftime. Then in the second half the floodgates opened as they found the back of the net four more times. The first coming seven minutes into the half on a header. Eleven minutes later they added another.

The next goal game in the 73rd minute on another header with the final goal coming six minutes later.

“First of all, I want to congratulate Florida State,” said South Alabama head coach Graham Winkworth. “I think they’re one of the, if not the most well-coached and organized teams in the country, with potentially the most talent in the country as well. So congratulations to Coach (Mark) Krikorian and all the girls and staff, because they are a phenomenal squad. But I could not be more proud of my team. I know the scoreboard is the same as last year, we were kind of hoping the NCAA might send us in a different direction this year, but we were back here. I know the scoreboard says the same thing as last year, but I think the game was a little different and I think at halftime Coach (Krikorian) would admit that he was in a game, and it was a game. For 44 ½ minutes, we held them, maybe the best team in the country, so I could not be more proud of the team.”

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Jags Earn Bowl Eligibility, Inside Track to Bowl Game with 24-20 Win over Texas State in final seconds

November 16, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football, NCAA, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 
South Alabama gathers around Colton Sawyer at midfield prior to kickoff against Texas State.

South Alabama gathers around Colton Sawyer at midfield prior to kickoff against Texas State.

The University of South Alabama football team overcame injuries, turnovers, allowing 10 points in the first quarter, and a last minute drive by Texas State to hold on for a 24-20 win to close out Sun Belt play.

The game could not have started worse for the Jaguar offense. Three-consecutive fumbles in their own territory yielded 10 points for the Bobcats in the first quarter.

“We had three turnovers in the first quarter, and that wasn’t good, but we were only down 10 points,” head coach Joey Jones explained. “I felt pretty fortunate to be in that situation. The defense came out and fought as they always do.”

The first turnover occurred at the Jaguar 44 and the bobcats took advantage by converting on 3rd and 12 with a 16 yard completion to keep the drive alive after which they would eventually punch it in for the first points of the game.

On the next Jaguar drive Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon forced a fumble by Xavier Johnson, who was also injured on the play and missed the remainder of the game. The bobcats started at the Jaguar 33, but the defense was not allowing another touchdown. Instead the bobcats were forced to kick a 41-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.

The ensuing kickoff was being returned by T.J. Glover when the ball was popped into the air and caught by a Texas State defender at the Jaguar 28-yard line. But again the defense was not going to allow a touchdown. On third and one, Theo Rich stopped the running back for a two yard loss. Then the 38-yard field goal attempt would miss wide left.

The Jaguars would get on the board with about 10 minutes left in the half on and eight play, 56-yard drive for a touchdown. Terrance Timmons gained 29 yards on the drive and moved the chains twice. Vaughn kept the drive alive on fourth-and-three when he found Jereme Jones open for a seven-yard completion. Vaughn would toss a lateral to Jake Howton who would throw it back across the field to Vaughn who would then go 28-yards untouched for the Jaguars first touchdown of the game making it 10-7.

Texas State would regain a 10-point advantage with just over four minutes left in the opening half when tight end Lawrence White was left open running a seam route for a 46-yard touchdown.

The Jags would add a field goal with 1:16 left in the half after Kendall Houston found an opening and ran 31 yards. Aleem Sunanon hit a career-long 46-yard field goal to cut the bobcat lead to 17-10 which would also be the score at halftime.

South Alabama came out in the second half with a renewed energy and determination and held Texas State to just 115 yards and three points.

“Our offensive and defensive staffs did a great job of making adjustments in the second half,” Jones said. “Our kids never gave up, and never had a look in their eyes that they were done. I felt good about it the whole time. I was a little nervous on that last play, but they came up with the play and made it to win the ballgame. It’s a great win for this university.”

USA opened the second half with the ball and only needed four minutes to tie the game. Vaughn kept the drive alive with a 14-yard pass to Bowman on third-and-13. He could come back to Bowman again to gain 45 yards to the Bobcat 9 yard line. Two plays later Vaughn connected with Danny Woodson II in the back corner of the end zone for his first career touchdown pass.

The Jaguars would finally take the lead with just over 12 minutes left in regulation. Terrance Timmons would cap off a 10-play 63 yard drive that took four-and-a-half minutes. The possession began with Timmons breaking off an 11 yard run. Vaughn converted third-and-2 when a 10-yard completion to Bowman on the last play of the third quarter. Kendall Houston set up Timmons for the touchdown after carrying the ball four consecutive times, including a 15 yarder on his first touch.

USA’s defense forced a three-and-out after Maleki Harris stopped Terrence Franks for no gain on a third-and-one. But the on the Jaguars possession, was they were moving the ball, Vaughn’s pass was intercepted along the left sideline and returned to the Jaguars 25 yard line. A nine-yard completion on first down led to a third-and-one at the Jaguar 16, but Maleki Harris blitz up the middle with perfect timing with the snap count to blow up the play and drop Robert Lowe for a four-yard loss. Texas State settled for a field goal to cut the Jaguar lead to 24-20 with over four minutes remaining.

The Texas State defense stiffened and the Jags could not muster a first down and gave the ball back to the Bobcats with two-and-a-half minutes remaining.

A 21-yard completion from quarterback Jones to Brandon Smith on fourth-and-seven kept the drive alive, as did a pass interference call on a third-and-18 at the Jaguar 39 yard line. They could continue to move the ball until they reached the Jaguar 4 yard line with five seconds left on the clock after spiking the ball. The final pass of the game fell incomplete as the Jaguar team broke into celebration.

Hunter Vaughn, the third string quarterback coming into this week, got his first start when Brandon Bridge was not ready to return to the field. Vaughn was an efficient 20-of-28 for 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He spread the ball around to seven different receivers with Jereme Jones leading the team with five receptions for 37 yards. Braedon Bowman caught four for 81 yards, Danny Woodson also caught four for 30 yards and a touchdown. Shavarez Smith caught three for 21 yards.

Terrance Timmons led the team on the ground with 74 yards on 11 carries. Houston added 68 yards on 10 carries as the Jaguars rushed for 174 yards as a team with an average of five yards per attempt.

Terrell Brigham had a career-high 12 stops to lead USA. Harris added nine with Jesse Kelley and Davin Hawkins both adding eight each. Kelley had 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

The Jaguar defense held the Texas State running game to only 106 yards, they came into the game averaging 227 yards rushing per game.

“First of all, my hat’s off to Texas State — what a game,” Jaguar head coach Joey Jones said. “Last year it came down to the last play of the game, and it did again this year. They have a great program. [Head] Coach [Dennis] Franchione does one heck of a job with that team, we knew it was going to be a tough one. We went all week long knowing that this was do-or-die for us to get into a bowl game.

“I just want to commend our players and my staff who have done so much in preparation to get to this point. They believed all week long, and they believed the entire game. We got behind and had a few early turnovers, but they didn’t panic. I thought we played a wonderful ballgame. Hunter Vaughn came in at quarterback and did a heck of a job even though he really hasn’t practice all year long. My hat’s off to him as well as the rest of the players on this football team, they did a tremendous thing today. We obviously have a chance to get into a bowl now with six wins, and we’re going to be a good one for somebody. We’re excited about it. It could be the first bowl game in South Alabama history.”

“We live in a one-play world, don’t we with our football team? We came up a play or two short tonight,” TSU head coach Dennis Franchione stated. “South Alabama did a nice job. I thought their quarterback did a better job in the second half and that was big for them. We still were able to get down there [in scoring position] and have a chance to win the game, we just didn’t quite get it done.”

South Alabama improves to 6-4 overall and 5-3 in Sun Belt play. Texas State falls to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

The Jaguars travel to Columbia, SC to face South Carolina on Saturday for an 11AM CST kickoff.

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