Jags Force Six Turnovers To Defeat Arkansas State 24-19

November 12, 2017 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference 

Defensive coordinator Kane Wommack coaches the defense in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars 24-19 win over Arkansas State.

South Alabama (4-6, 3-3 SBC) forced six turnovers as they upset Sun Belt Conference leader Arkansas State (5-3, 4-1 SBC) in Mobile 24-19. This win marks the first one by the Jags in this series.

After forcing three turnovers in the first quarter and taking a 10-0 lead, they still needed some late-game heroics to preserve the win. The Jags were leading 24-19 but the Red Wolves were driving. Facing 3rd and goal at the 4 yard line, quarterback Justice Hansen kept the ball and looked to be running for a touchdown, but Bull Barge met him at the 1, forcing the ball out, which Malcolm Buggs recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

But the heroics wasn’t over just yet.

After losing 11 yards on 3rd and 4 as the Arkansas State defense bull rushed the backfield, the Jags punted the ball back to the ASU with 2:06 left in the game. But on the fourth play of the drive, Hansen was looking a receiver running an inside slant, but senior Jeremy Reaves picked it off sealing the victory.

Arkansas State cut the Jaguar lead to 10-6 with a pair of field goals in the second quarter. Attempting to get some points before halftime, ASU’s Hansen threw another interception when Darrell Songy picked it off at the ASU 47. The Jags drove down to the 1 yard line with :06 left in the first half, but Jamarius Way and an ASU defender got into a tussle and reportedly threw a punch and was ejected. After clocking the ball, the Jags sent on Gavin Patterson for a short field goal, but the snap was too high and the Jags took their 10-6 lead into halftime.

Late in the third quarter, Cole Garvin found Sam Harris for a 39 yard touchdown after he broke a couple tackles and found a seam in the defense to allow him to get to the end zone.

Arkansas State answered back quickly with 5 play drive covering 79 yards in 1:13. They attempted a 2-point conversion but failed to connect leaving the Jags ahead 17-12.

The Jags would answer back with with a 16-yard touchdown from Garvin to Kawaan Baker to cap off a 9 play, 75 yard drive, to cut the lead down to 24-19 with just 2:55 left in the game.

South Alabama had problems running the ball against the Arkansas State defensive line. After finally getting positive rushing late in the game, the Jags finished with -3 after kneeling on the ball in the victory formation.

The Jags gained 340 yards total, 343 of them through the air. Arkansas State ran for 66 yards, threw for 299 more for a total of 365 yards.

Justice Hansen went 27-of-44 for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted four times and was sacked four times as well. Cole Garvin was 25-of-45 for a career high 343 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and sacked three times.

Garvin’s top target with Malik Stanley who caught six passes for 60 yards. Jordan McCray caught four for 72 yards, Jamarius Way caught three for 66 yards before being disqualified at the end of the first half. Six other Jaguars caught passes too.

Justice’s top receiver was Chris Murray who caught 7 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Black Mack caught 5 for a game-high 94 yards receiving. Eight other Red Wolves caught passes.

Carlos Robinson was the Jags leading rusher with 21 yards on 9 carries. Tra Minter added 9 on 14 carries.

Hansen was the Red Wolves leading rusher with 37 yards on 18 attempts. Warran Wand and Johnston White added 21 and 20 yards respectively.

Bull Barge led the way with 13 total stops, eight of the solo with a forced fumble and a tackle for loss. Jeremy Reaves had 11 stops, nine of them solo along with the game-sealing interception. Darrell Songy had 10 stops and an interception as well. Sean Grayer and Tobias Moss bot the other two interceptions.

“I challenged the kids today and told them to try and whip [Arkansas State’s] tail every play, and if they did that we were going to have a chance, ” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “That’s all I asked them to do today. I just wanted them to play their tails off every play; the offensive line, the defensive line and every player on the field, and I think they did that. They gave unbelievable effort. We made a few mistakes, but they gave unbelievable effort and played their tails off. I’m just so proud of the way they played tonight. They played with so much confidence. We beat a really good football team, Arkansas State’s the cream of the crop in our league. They’ve got great coaches and great athletes, they’ve won five out of the last six conference championships, and we were finally able to beat them. To get a win against this team speaks volumes for our players and their dedication to this program.”

“What a play. Great players make great plays in big times,” Jones continued when talking about Bull Barge’s forced fumble. Bull Barge is probably the most improved player on our football team. He’s become a leader and a captain on our team in my mind, and he’s a guy we can count on. If you have a bunch of guys like him on your team, you’re going to be able to make plays like that one. I’m so proud of him.”

When asked about finishing the game, Jones had the following to say. “We just kept our players up on the sideline. Whenever they went down and scored quickly, the momentum could have changed and they could have dropped their heads, but everybody on offense and defense kept coming over and encouraging each other. I felt like our attitude just completely changed and it was fun to see that tonight.”

Bull Barge talked about the big play he had in the closing minutes of the game. “It was me and Jeremy. Jeremy had the back man-to-man, and I was the extra player, so I had the quarterback. When Jeremy saw the quarterback take off, he sealed the outside, I saw him cut up, and I just dove at him trying to kill him, basically. He tried to jump over me, and I guess my head hit the ball perfectly. And when I hit the ground, I thought he scored, and I turned around and saw the ball rolling, and I just wanted to lay down and cry. That’s the biggest play of my life, ever.”

“Before the game, we sat down as a defense and really got on the same page,” Barge explained the Jags defensive effort in the game. “We told all the seniors how much we love them and how much we really want them to go out on top of a bowl game, and we knew we had to win this game to get where we wanted to be. We just came out and executed the way we wanted, the way we talked about before the game. It got a little shaky in the end, but we talked on the sideline and we knew how we were going to respond. Jeremy sealed the game as always. I have looked up to Jeremy so much ever since I got here. I love him, and I just want to send him out on top.”

“That was the perfect way I wanted to go out,” Senior Jeremy Reaves explained the game-sealing turnover late in the game. “I’m so proud of my teammates, and it’s a great feeling to know that I’ve got 10 guys behind me who are going to bust their behinds just like I am. I’m proud of my offense, I’m proud of Bull, I’m proud of everything. We knew we had to make plays. This is a great team, and we made plays when we needed to.”

“It’s very emotional,” said Reaves on winning his final home game as a Jaguar. “It’s hard because this is my last one at home with these guys, and we got it. It’s been so long together. I’ve built so many relationships. It’s just a good feeling to go out the right way. My family got to see my go out at home the right way. I can’t put it into words. It’s a blessing, honestly.”

“We’ll celebrate this win tonight, and it’s gone after that like it never happened,” Reaves stated about the team going forward. “It’s another week. We’ve got to play again on Saturday. We’ll celebrate this one tonight as a team. We did something that no other team here has done, and we put this one behind us and go forward from there.”

The Jags went 1-0 this week. Starting Sunday, the Jags will be back to 0-0 again and will face Georgia Southern at 2pm in Statesboro, Georgia on Saturday, November 18 as they continue their march to getting bowl-eligible.

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