South Alabama was shocked by Louisiana-Monroe.
A team that entered the game 2-6 on the season who was outscored 110-27 in the previous two games and was searching for answers after losing their starting quarterback and falling back on a redshirt freshman and a true freshman.
The Warhawks started freshman Caleb Evans at quarterback and he continually found receivers open over the middle. The Jags defense clearly missed Kalen Jackson in the middle of the defense. Missing six defensive linemen for the season, another clearly slowed from a recent injury, your top tackler is playing through injury, starting left guard out of the season, and also missing one of your top cover corners and it’s a recipe for trouble. But the nagging injuries do not stop there: Dallas Davis with turf toe, Xavier fighting through injury on top of all the other injuries that accumulate through the course of a season.
And trouble is exactly what the Jags ran into in Monroe.
On the positive side, the offense gained 516 yards, 209 of it on the ground. Having coach Vincent on the sideline definitely has helped spark the offense but 12 penalties for 83 yards is enough swing a close game the other way.
Head coach Joey Jones was clearly beyond unhappy after the game. Unhappy is not a good way to describe it. His post-game interview was blunt and honest. He felt the team did not come to play Saturday afternoon and that they had a lot to work on going into an open week.
The biggest question right now is who is going to step up and fill Kalen’s shoes. His ability to defend the middle of the field and provide run support was a huge part of the Jaguar defense.
Even with that, the Jags stepped up late in the game with a 6 play, 80 yard drive in 1:08 to tie the game up with :50 left in the game. The Warhawks took possession and got to the Jaguar 39 yard line before Evans was picked off by Jeremy Reaves at the USA 31 and returned to the ULM 33 with only five seconds left in the game.
Gavin Patterson’s season long is 40 yards and is 1-of-4 from 40-49 yards. With a 50 yard attempt to win the game, but his kick was blocked which sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, the defense had a 3rd and 1 at the 16 but an offsides penalty gave the Warhawks an automatic first down and they went on to score a touchdown.
The Jags opened their overtime possession with an three yard run by Xavier Johnson then back-to-back incompletions led to a 4th & 7, which turned into a 4th & 12 after a false start. Then the Warhawks sent a blitz up the middle that the offense couldn’t pick up and Dallas Davis was sacked to end the game 42-35.
The Jags best chance at getting bowl eligible is to get wins against Idaho and New Mexico State. The Presbyterian game currently cannot be counted towards bowl eligibility since they already have one win over a FCS school on their resume this season. There will be an appeal to the NCAA, but with all things NCAA related there’s no certainty as to what their response will be.
But that’s looking ahead, the only thing the Jags can control at this time is getting healed up as much as they can for Presbyterian on November 19. They have to stay focused on one game at a time and handle business.
These are all winnable games, but harder to fight two opponents at once: the team your playing and the injury bug. Let’s hope this is the END of the injuries and we can start actually play like a team rather than a MASH unit.
Forth quarter heroics propelled the Jaguars to a 13-10 win over Georgia State on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The game was a tale of two defenses. Each defense caused problems for the opposing offenses as neither team really ran the ball well nor did they throw the ball particularly well.
That is until the Jaguars started playing with urgency in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars took possession of the ball at their own 8 yard line with 11:03 on the clock. The drive began with a 15 yard pass completion to Gerald Everett then the Jaguars started a “death march. Six consecutive rushes that moved the ball from the USA 23 to the Panther 24 before the first negative play of the drive. And it was nearly disastrous as quarterback Dallas Davis was in the shotgun, but the center’s snap was as if he was under center.
After getting behind the down and distance, back-to-back incompletions gave head coach Joey Jones a very interesting choice to make: attempt a field goal and close within 4 points or go for it on 4th and 11 to keep the drive alive.
Jones opted to go for broke and it paid off. Davis’ pass to Everett was caught about five yards short of the first down marker, but Everett turned and accelerated upfield, broke tackles and willed a first down on a 14 yard gain.
The drive ended with three more runs for a game-tying touchdown.
Brandon McKee, who earned Sun Belt Conference honors for his play, pinned the Panthers at their own 9 yard line with 1:28 left in the game. After a flag for roughing the quarterback, Finesse Middleton came up with an 11 yard sack with :51 left and the Jags used their final time out to force a punt.
Then for the third time in the game, Brandon Wright shanked a punt. The kick sailed out of bounds at the 31 yards, a mere 18 yards.
With only :44 on the clock, no time outs and after already missing field goal in the game the Jags had the ball in a 10-10 tie.
After two runs, the Jags were flagged for a false start. Then Xavier Johnson took the ball and came up short of the first down. With the clock running, the offense came to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball with :06 left. Gavin Patterson came onto the field for a 30 yard attempt. After Panther head coach Trent Miles called both of his remaining time outs, Patterson drilled the kick to take a 13-10 lead with just two seconds left.
The sky kick to the sideline hit off a Panther’s hands and out of bounds. After an official review, they put one second on the clock but the Jaguars prevent defense and three man rush were enough to knock down the ball short of the end zone and give the Jaguars their first conference win.
South Alabama gained only 306 yards, 182 of it through the air. The Panthers gained 240 yards with 127 of them on the ground. Xavier Johnson led the Jags with 83 yards rushing while Everett was the leading receiver with four catches for 49 yards.
But the game MVP and deserved the SBC Special Teams Player of the Week honor was McKee who downed all four of his punts inside the 20. Corliss Waitman punted once for 53 yards and also downed his inside the 20.
Now the Jaguars look to build on their first conference win with a trip to Louisiana-Monroe, who is 2-6 on the season and hoping to keep their bowl chances alive under rookie head coach Matt Viator.
The Warhawks offense has suffered since losing their multi-dimensional quarterback for the season two weeks ago as they have been outscored 110-27 by New Mexico and Arkansas State.
Playing two young quarterbacks, a redshirt freshman and a true freshman, the Warhawks are trying to something that works.
USA did not have any serious injuries for what seemed like the first time all season against the Panthers. The Jags unprecedented list of injured began when they lost all three starting defensive linemen in summer camp, then lost during the season and then lost their leading tackler Kalen Jackson for the season against Troy. Couple that with turf toe injury to your starting quarterback, an undisclosed injury to Josh Magee, a couple injuries to Xavier Johnson that led him to miss playing time and losing the starting left guard and it’s amazing to think that they have wins over Mississippi State and then 19th ranked San Diego State under their belt this season already.
If the Jaguars can get their running game established early and the swarm defense can cause their normal distractions then the Jaguars should have a great opportunity to get back above .500 and one game closer to bowl eligibility.
Oh and let’s stay healthy too. That’s probably the biggest key.