Jaguars Travel To Troy And Stun The Trojans 19-8

October 14, 2017 · By · Filed Under Battle For The Belt, Football 

Head coach Joey Jones lifts the ‘Battle for the Belt’ championship belt for the third time in the last four years. | Photo Credit: Brad Puckett usajaguars.com

South Alabama went to Troy Wednesday night on a mission, and they accomplished their mission in commanding fashion with a 19-8 win to return the rivalry belt to Mobile.

The Jaguars went into the game a 16.5 point underdog with only the die hard of Jaguar fan base thinking they even had a shot to win the game. If you listened to online message boards, it was going to be a blowout and the head coach would need to be fired on the sidelines after the game and should pull a Southern Cal by letting the coach find his own way home.

But none of that came to pass, instead the defense and set the tone for the game. Six pass breakups, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, three turnovers on downs, three fumble recoveries and an interception.

That’s textbook definition of what defensive coordinator Kane Wommack calls ‘Swarm D’.

Head coach Joey Jones and his staff put together a great game plan and the players executed well. The offense struggled some in the first half outside of their one touchdown drive.

The offense came out in the second half with a commanding drive to extend their lead while converting over half of the third-downs they faced in the second half.

The entire team was spurred on by a large contingent of South Alabama fans who made the trip for the game. They were loud, proud, and full of energy. They were another textbook example of what the Jaguars need at home week-in and week-out.

The Jags first score was set up by a 57 yard punt by Corliss Waitman when Carlos Robinson forced Marcus Jones to cough up the ball which Collier Smith recovered at the Troy 46. Starting quarterback Cole Garvin connected with Tra Minter on a screen pass for 37 yards to set eventually set up Xavier Johnson to cap off the drive with a one yard leap into the end zone, giving USA a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Waitman would again be huge for the Jags. He booted away a 54 yard punt to the Troy 4 yard line, but a block in the back would put the line of scrimmage at the 2 yard line. On 2nd and 11, Troy’s star running back Jordan Chunn could be bottled up and taken down for a safety extending the Jaguars lead to 9-0. Which would be the score at halftime.

The Jaguars offense came out early in the second half, led by Dallas Davis off the bench, with intentions of making a statement. They were 0-for-7 on 3rd down conversions in the first half, but converted all three of their first possession of the second half. Two of them were pass completions to Sam Harris and the other was a touchdown pass over the middle to Malik Stanley to cap off an 11 play, 64 yard drive to go up 16-0.

“Cole struggled a little bit and I felt like I needed to get Dallas in the game,” Jaguar head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “He directed us down the field for a score. He played a good half.”

Gavin Patterson would add a career long 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give South Alabama a 19-0 lead and sent the Trojan faithful to the exits.

After forcing a three and out, the Jaguars started at their own 43. On 2nd and 6, Davis connected with Minter for a 49 yard gain on another screen pass. Facing 4th and goal at the 4, the Jaguar coaching staff pulled out a trick play attempting to put another dagger in the Trojans, but the defense snuffed it and sacked Davis for a 15 yard loss on an intentional grounding call when he tried the fling the ball away.

This breathed some life back into the Trojans, who promptly put together their best drive of the game going 81 yards in 9 plays for their only score of the game to make it 19-8 after they converted the two-point conversion.

Troy attempted an on-sides kick, which hit and bounced off of a Jaguar but was recovered by David Gardner at the Troy 48. But three plays late, on 4th and 1, Denzel Foster was dropped for a loss of two yards giving Troy great field position with 4:30 left in the game.

The Jaguar defense bent but did not break. The secondary, which has been ravaged by injuries, helped force three-consecutive incomplete passes from the Jaguar 13 yard line. Needing two scores, Trojan head coach Neal Brown opted to attempt a 30 yard field goal by Evan Legassey, which he missed wide left, just like he did a 27-yard attempt in the first half.

From there, the Jags kept the ball on the ground and ran the clock out for the win.

The USA offense ended the game with 224 yards of total offense, only 48 of them on the ground with the other 176 yards coming through the air. Troy gained 299 yards, only 30 of them through the air.

Cole Garvin started the game for USA and went 4-of-10 for 56 yards and an interception. Dallas Davis came in late in the first half and went 7-of-10 for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Malik Stanley led the Jaguar receivers with four catches for 53 yards an the lone touchdown. Tra Minter caught three passes for 83 yards setting up both touchdowns. Sam Harris had two catches for 25 yards, both were to convert 3rd downs. Foster and Jahmmir Taylor both caught a pass also.

Denzel Foster was the Jaguars leading rusher with 30 yards on nine carries. Minter added 21 yards on 12 carries. Deonta Moore had 10 yards on six carries. Xavier Johnson, who left the game in the first half with a sprained ankle, had 4 yards on seven carries with the Jaguars lone rushing touchdown.

Troy’s star running back Jordan Chunn left the game early with an injury finished with 28 yards on 10 carries. Josh Anderson added 10 yards on three carries and Henderson had 9 yards on two carries.

Brandon Silvers went 24-of-46 for 263 yards and an interception. Kaleb Barker completed his only pass attempt for 6 yards. Emanual Thompson led the Trojans with six catches for 67 yards. Eight other receivers caught passes as well.

“I know we’ve got a good football team,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “I never doubted them, I love them. We know we have a bunch of conference games coming up and we are going to get after our preparation for the game next week with ULM, but right now we are going to enjoy this one. I’s a huge win for our program and puts us with one more win in the conference. That’s our goal to win the [Sun Belt] Conference championship and it’s still out there for us.

“It’s a huge, huge win for our program. That’s three out of the last four we’ve beaten these guys, and two out of three with the Belt. I’m so proud of the way our guys played. They fought their guts out tonight. It was a joy to watch.”

“They outcoached us,” Troy head coach Neal Brown said in his postgame press conference. “Our guys were not ready to play and that’s on me; that’s disappointing. We didn’t take advantage of a great opportunity. It’s an extremely disappointing evening.”

“The challenge of this defense has been, can we finish a game?,” USA defensive coordinator Kane Wommack said. “I think when you play the way that we did in the second half, to take the momentum from the get-go, that was the difference.”

“This win is huge for us,” said quarterback Dallas Davis. “We came in 1-4, which I don’t even like saying that record, and Troy is a good team; they beat LSU. We practiced hard all week and it’s a big rivalry game for us, so we knew we had to bring it, and we did both offensively and defensively.”

“I just wanted to make sure that I did my job and make sure there wasn’t a drop from his type of performance to mine,” said defensive back Khalil McDonald, who started in place of Malcolm Buggs when he was unable to play. “I did my job and played my heart out and wanted to do it for the team.”

“We had been talking about this game all week,” said Jeremy Reaves when talking about what this win means to the seniors on the team. “This win wasn’t only for us, but also for recruiting and the years to come for our program. Getting this win benefits me a lot [personally] because I get to say that I was able to get another win at Troy; I’m 2-0 here. We’ve been through so much adversity and we dedicated this season to turning the program around. To be able to come out on top in this big game is huge.”

South Alabama will have another long week to prepare for their next game. The Jags will return home to host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, October 21 for their annual homecoming game. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

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