Jags Defeat Georgia State 4-0 For Third-Consecutive SBC Title
The South Alabama Jaguar soccer team earned their their consecutive Sun Belt Conference title with a 4-0 win over Georgia State on Sunday to punch their card to the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore Rio Hardy scored the lone goal in the first half with help by Danielle Henley who drove a low cross to Hardy who hit it home.
Just three minutes into the second half Sophomore Chelsea Followwell hit home a loose ball in front of the net after a corner kick at the 60:36 mark.
Charde Hannah took advantage of a defensive miscue at the 63:35 mark to make it a 3-0 lead. The final score came in the 85th minute when Nini Rabsatt-Smith headed the ball into the net on a corner kick from freshman Jemma Purfield.
“I’m obviously delighted that we managed to win,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “I was really happy because usually at this time of the year, it’s about the result and not the performance, but today we put in a fantastic performance and got a fantastic result. I was really happy for the girls; it means a lot to them and to me to lift the trophy again.
“We’re scoring lots of goals and they’re coming from lots of areas,” Winkworth noted. “They really showed up today; it was maybe one of our stronger performances of the season.”
The Jags had five players named to the All-Tournament team: Sophomore Ashlynn Jones, senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith, Sophomore Rio Hardy, sophomore Charde Hannah and junior Sarah Hay. Hannah was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“All five of them were crucial to our success, but in all honesty, we could have picked anyone that played this weekend,” Winkworth said. “Those five humble young ladies would be the first to admit that if it wasn’t for the squad that we’ve got, they wouldn’t be receiving those awards this weekend and we wouldn’t be taking the big one home.”
“We were solid from front to back,” Winkworth said. “The forwards worked hard limiting quality longballs from their back line and the midfield pressed extremely well. The defense dropped when they needed to drop and intercepted passes rather than needing to make tackles. Only once did they get in behind us, and when that happened, Sarah pulled off an excellent save on a 1-on-1. All in all, I’m very happy with the defensive performance from front to back.”
South Alabama Set To Host LSU In First Round Of NCAA Tournament
On Monday afternoon, the Jags learned their fate for the NCAA Tournament from the Division I Women’s Soccer Committee and it was not only historic for South Alabama, but also for the Sun Belt Conference.
South Alabama will host LSU for the first-round match on Saturday night. The first in South Alabama history and also the first in Sun Belt Conference history.
This will be the Jags third consecutive tournament appearance and enter the tournament with a 17-2-2 record overall and a 14-match unbeaten streak.
“This is huge,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “We’ve created something very special here. It wouldn’t have matter who they sent us, we’d have been excited to have a game on campus. We need the whole community to come out on Saturday and cheer us on.
“It will be great for our community to have such a big team coming into town. We know a lot of people will think they’re the big favorites coming from the SEC, however, we feel like we’ve got a good product here as well. We hope it’ll be an excellent game and hopefully we’ll get the right result.”
LSU (13-5-4) earned their way into the postseason for the first time since 2011 after advancing to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The Tigers lead the all-time series against USA 5-4 with wins in their last three meetings, the most recent in 2010.
With the Jaguar Football team’s game on Thursday night, the Saturday night date against LSU is a great opportunity to support the Lady Jaguars in their quest for a National Title.
Tickets are $7 for Adults, $3 for Seniors, Children between 2-12 are also $3 and Children under 2 are Free.
Student tickets are also $3 however the first 300 students are able to claim free tickets on a first-come, first served basis Saturday night when the gates open by showing a valid student ID.
Tickets can be purchased over the phone only by calling 251.461.1USA (1872). All tickets will be held for pickup on Saturday night and no tickets will be distributed before the match. Gates will open 90 minutes prior to the match.
The match is scheduled for 7pm on Saturday.
All tickets will be general admission and grandstand seating is first-come-first served. Fans are recommended to bring portable outdoors chairs with them.
South Alabama freshman Jemma Purfield was named the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Soccer Defensive Student-Athlete of the week on Tuesday. She is the second Jaguar to earn this recognition this season after Charde Hannah earned it last week.
Purfield, a native of Cottingham, England, scored a goal with an assist and helped lead the Jaguar defense in two shutouts. She played all 90 minutes against Louisiana Tech in a 1-0 victory where she recorded two shots on goal as the Jag defense only allowed two shots in the match.
Two days later, Purfield scored her first career goal in a 7-0 win over Tennessee-Martin. She also added an assist as the Jag defense held UTM to only six shots to record their second consecutive shutout.
Purfield has started every game this season and played all but 22 minutes.
South Alabama, who received three votes in the latest NSCAA Top 25 poll, will host the Jaguar Classic this weekend as South Florida, Troy and Austin Peay all come to The Cage for weekend matches. The Jags will face USF on Friday at 7pm then Austin Peay on Sunday at 2:30pm.
The NCAA announced on Tuesday that University of South Alabama Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann will serve as chair of the Division I Baseball Committee for the 2015-16 academic year.
Erdmann represents the South Region in the 10-member committee just completed his third year with the group. His role serving with the committee includes helping to select and seed the field for the NCAA Tournament as well as assisting in site administration.
“I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve as chair of the committee,” Erdmann was quoted as saying. “The committee is made up of highly capable professionals who understand the core of our duty is to provide the best championship field and experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. I look forward to the upcoming year as we continue to move the baseball championship and the great game itself forward.”
As USA’s AD, Erdmann has been members of the baseball, softball, golf and tennis committees in the Sun Belt Conference. When he was AD at the University of North Alabama, Erdmann was a member of the NCAA Division II Football Committee during the 2006-07 academic year and also co-chaired the NCAA Division II Football Southeast Region Advisory Committee.
Earlier this week it was announced that senior offensive lineman Chris May was named to the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List.
May, a 6’5″ 290-pound native of Tuscumbia, AL. joins center Joseph Scelfo on the watch list which now has a total of 176 student-athletes in consideration for the award. Scelfo was one of the original 34 student-athletes announced.
May, like Scelfo, was voted preseason first-team All-Sun Belt Conference last month by the league’s head coaches and select members of the media. As he heads into his final season with the Jaguars he also has preseason All-Conference selections from both Athlon Sports (first-team) and Phil Steele Publications (second-team).
During his career May has received league recognition in each of his three seasons as a Jaguar. He was named by Sun Belt beat writers to the All-Freshman team in 2012, he was a first-team All-SBC selection in 2013 then received an honorable mention last fall. He enters his senior year with 32 consecutive starts dating aback to the middle of his freshman year, which is the longest active streak on the team.
Last season May recorded 33 knockdown blocks and graded out 80% or better on six occasions. Against Texas State in November May recorded 11 pancakes, more than half of the team’s total of 18, in their win over the Bobcats which made the Jags bowl-eligible and eventually helping them to earn a bowl invitation for the first time in program history. In May’s sophomore season he led the team with 65 pancake blocks and his overall grade of 87% was second-highest on the team; which included earning a mark of 90% or better four times. He has also earned the coaches’ offensive line award in a game on eight occasions during his three seasons as a Jag.
The Rotary Lombardi Award is limted to down linemen – end-to-end on either offense or defense – who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage. On November 5, the field will be narrowed down to 12 semifinalists and the winner the 46th annual Rotary Lombardi Award will be announced at the Bayou Music Center in Houston on December 9.
They are ahead of teams such as Syracuse (88), Tulane (91), Colorado (92), Indiana (95), Oregon State (98), Virginia (99), Southern Miss (100), Illinois (102), South Florida (103), UTEP (107), Tulsa (108), Massachusetts (109), Purdue (112), Iowa State (115), Wake Forest (116), UConn (119), Vanderbilt (121) and Kansas (124) to selectively name a few.
If you would like to see who placed where in the full top 128, click the link here.
Shinn and Woodson are on a list that includes more than 350 student-athletes on the collegiate level from across the nation. Only 110 individuals will be selected for the two rosters for the postseason all-star game to be held on January 30, 2016 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Shinn is entering his second season with the Jaguars after a junior season that was curtailed by an injury which limited him to only 173 yards on seven catches. His longest gain of the season, 58 yards, came in the second quarter of his debut against Kent State leading to a touchdown an a 16-0 advantage in the season opening victory. He averaged 24.7 yards per catch, the best on the team with more than one catch.
Woodson enters into his third season with the Jaguars after starting seven games and playing in all 12 games. He caught 30 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns. In the Jaguars first ever bowl appearance, the had career-highs with six catches for 122 yards. Woodson caught an 18 yard scoring pass with just over four minutes left against Georgia State to lift the Jaguars over the Panthers.
In 2013, Woodson caught 26 passes for 439 yards and four touchdowns in eight games before a season-ending injury.
Woodson enters into his final season with the Jaguars ranked among the top 10 in school history in three categories. He is sixth in receptions (56), yards receiving (821) and fourth in touchdown catches (8).
Three Jaguars have been selected to compete in the Senior Bowl since the program’s start in 2009. Courtney Smith was chosen for the 2011 game. Two years later both Jake Johnson and B.J. Scott were extended invitations to the game.
Below are highlights from their time with the media.
“We had a good year last year, going to our first bowl game was a big deal for us. But our guys want to achieve more. They want to win a bowl game and a conference championship — those are our two goals. We have some great leadership on this football team, probably the best we’ve had. These guys are meeting once a week, talking to all the players and doing things behind the scenes that make a team great. Everybody knows we had 31 seniors last year who graduated, including 17 starters, and is concerned about that, and I am too. But if you could look in that locker room, be around the guys and be on the practice field with them, maybe we will surprise some people this fall.”
Jones spoke about the potential impact UAB transfers will have on the team this year:
“We’ve got several. I think Cameron Blankenship will start for us at right guard, he’s a tough, athletic football player. Cody Clements has a chance to be the starting quarterback, I feel real good about him, and D.J. Vinson is doing really well at the slot receiver. Gerald Everett is doing extremely well, he’s a lot like Wes Saxton in that he’s an athletic tight end. I could go on and on, but those are some of the guys who have shown that they can really play the game. The great thing is they have been able to take our system, which [assistant] coach [Bryant] Vincent brought from here to UAB last year, so there was no learning curve with terminology. From day one [of spring practice] they were able to play at a high level. With us losing so many seniors and starters, they have been able to fill some voids on offense that were highly needed.”
Jones spoke about the leadership he’s seen in this year’s senior class:
“I think they have stepped up well in that regard. I’ve been extremely impressed with their ability to lead. Talking about leading and leading is two different things, and I think these guys are truly leading every day. We’ve had some great leadership in the past and they have learned from those guys, just like you learn from your parents.”
Jones spoke about what Chris May means to the offense:
“He’s completely changed in that regard. Chris’ attitude is A-plus, his effort is A-plus, he’s a great athlete. I expect great things out of him not only on the field, protecting our quarterback and run blocking, but also as a guy who can lead, which is going to bring some of these young guys along. I’ve been real impressed with Chris May.”
Jones on the experience gained playing at the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl:
“Every time I think about coming on the field for that game, I think it’s one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever been involved in. To see our players who had fought to get there all those years, and to look up into the stands and see all of our fans who had come up from Mobile, all of our alumni who had come from across the Southeast yelling as loud as they could, it was a chilling moment. It was a moment that I and all of our players had dreamed about, so it’s exciting that we were able to do that in our second year as an NCAA Division I program.”
May on his role of being a leader entering his senior year:
“Honestly, I just want to leave a legacy of building leaders, not just being a leader of our offense or our team. It’s more about putting time in with the younger guys and trying to develop them as well because when the older guys leave we have to have someone who will provide the foundation.”
May spoke about how the transfers from UAB have fit in:
“When they first got here it, even though they fit in, it was kind of awkward. What they went through was a traumatic situation. But this summer we’ve been able hang out — cooking out, going bowling, things like that — to build chemistry with them, which has been awesome.”
May on the goals of the offense in 2015:
“Coach Vincent has been pounding into our heads that we want to be the best offense in our conference and one of the best, if not the best, in the country. We had the weapons last year to be a lot better than we were, and we have the weapons now to be a lot better than we were last year. A lot of people are pointing out that we lost a lot of people from our defense last year, but I think the finger should be pointed at us [the offense]. We need to learn how to develop better chemistry and instead of underachieving we need to overachieve.”
May on adjusting to [assistant] coach [Bryant] Vincent returning just before the bowl game last season:
“He did a very good job of using what we were already doing, but tweaking it to make it his own. He didn’t really change a lot of terminology, he didn’t change a lot of plays, he just tweaked some stuff to do what he wanted to do. We only had one game, and we couldn’t completely reinvent our offense in one week. We really haven’t changed a lot of stuff, we’re going to do things a lot faster and be a lot more aggressive, so it’s not a huge transition. It’s a different mentality but the same type of system.”
May on his experience taking the field at the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl last year:
“The process of getting to the bowl was really cool, and then running onto the field with the fireworks was a cool experience even if it caught me off guard. But once the game started the feeling was gone, it was just another game. It was a really cool experience.”
Buchanan on how important is it for the program to take the next step:
“I feel that this year is the year for us to prove that we are a unit. Losing some players [from last season] on defense doesn’t mean anything. The way in which we do things [on the field] is why we win. What we are trying to implement in our program is that the way you watch film, the way you run, just everything you do every single day. Our ways is what makes us win.”
Buchanan on what he has seen in practice from the defensive unit and what he expects from them:
“I’m just ready for fall camp, because based off our 7-on-7s, workouts and everything we’ve been doing, the competition level is neck-and-neck. Right now, I feel we are two-deep at the corner. I feel like the battle at the corner position is going to be so steep that if you stub your toe, you may lose your starting job. It hasn’t always been that way for us. At linebacker, Demarius Rancifer had an extremely good spring and he’s still learning. On the defensive line, I really expect Tyree [Turner] and Roy [Albritton] to come in and make a splash. They’ve shown the will to learn the defense, the will to get better every single day. They came in this spring with the right attitude and I love it. As a whole though, I feel that we’ve taken what we did last year and shown that we believe we can be even better than that.”
Buchanan on how important he feels his role on the team will be this season:
“What Maleki [Harris] was last year and what Romelle [Jones] was the year before, I feel that that’s me now. Those guys helped me so much to get to where I am right now. I can’t remember exactly when it was last season, but Maleki came to me during a practice and told me that it was my turn. He told me that this was my defense now, that I had to take ownership of it and that I had to hold guys accountable. I think I’ve done that. I wasn’t a very vocal guy when I got here, but I’ve gotten better.”
Buchanan on how his versatility in high school has helped him at this level:
“I feel like from that experience that I understand the game so much better and deeper than your average defensive player. There are very few things that an offense can throw at me that confuses me or causes me to play slower. I think the triple-option offense, which you rarely see in college, is the only thing that I’ve had to get used to. Because of those experiences, I feel like I know what the offense is trying to do and I know what I would do if I was an offensive player, so there is very little that you can do to get me off my game. What I love about playing safety is that I have total control over the defense. I can make calls at all three levels. Because I know what the offense is trying to do, [assistant] coach [Travis] Pearson has a lot of confidence in me and gives me freedom back there. It’s kind of like being a quarterback back there.”
In addition to earning the Vic Bubas Cup in May for being the Sun Belt Conference’s top member in competition, which included four programs that won league championships (Soccer, Men’s Cross Country, Baseball and Women’s Tennis) the Jaguars capped off the previous academic and sports year with success in the classroom.
The Sun Belt Conference office announced on Wednesday that the University of South Alabama had a school record-breaking total of 162 student-athletes receive Conference academic recognition for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Those 162 were part of the 2014-2015 SBC Commissioner’s List and Academic Honor Roll, which put USA sixth in the conference. This is an increase of seven from the previous academic record of 155.
USA tied for second in the conference with 88 student-athletes on the Commissioner’s List which goes to those with a GPA of 3.5 or higher during the previous two semesters. Another 74 Jags were recognized in the Academic Honor Roll which honors students with a 3.0-3.49 GPA over the previous two semesters.
Football, Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field and Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field each featured more than 20 student-athletes on the list with 28, 25, 21 respectively. Baseball had 15, soccer had 13 and softball had 12 individuals on the list as well with other programs contributing the remainder of the individuals.
The Award watch lists announcements keep coming and Jaguars student-athletes continue to placed on them. On Wednesday it was Aleem Sunanon who picked up his second preseason watch list honor.
It was announced that junior placekicker Sunanon was among a group of student-athletes in consideration for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is also known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service”. It is presented annually by the All Sports Association and is named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel from the University of Florida. The award is given to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
Voting for the award is performed by a national selection committee that includes college football television and print media, industry notables, former head coaches and prior Wuerffel Trophy recipients.
On November 3 semifinalists will be announced then three weeks later the finalists will be announced and the winner will be announced on December 8 at the National Football Foundation’s press conference in New York City. The presentation of the 2015 Wuerffel Trophy will be held at the 47th Annual All Sports Association Awards Banquet on February 12, 2016 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Sunanon holds a school record with 33 field goals in his career so far with an 80.5 percent conversion rate. He has accounted for 160 points over the previous two seasons, included 69 points last season after making 15-of-18 attempts. He was selected as honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference in 2013 after posting 91 points while going 18-of-23 on field goals as a redshirt-freshman. He finished the season with a program-record 12 consecutive field goal and tied a Jaguar single-game record with four field goals at South Carolina last season.
More preseason football watch list action and academic honors for the track and field and cross country teams.
The preseason watch lists are being announced one-by-one as the college football season is quickly approaching and one Jaguar offensive lineman just picked up his second watch list announcement on Tuesday.
Joseph Scelfo, a junior, was selected to the Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List last week and has been selected for the Watch List for the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award.
The Rotary Lombardi Award is eligible for linemen only, both of offense and defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deel from the line of scrimmage.
Scelfo was one of only two Jaguar offensive linemen who started all 13 games last season and earn the coaches’ weekly award on more than one occasion. In 2014, his first season as a starter for USA, he had a season-high grading of 88 percent in the Jags win over Troy as well as an 87 percent grade against Bowling Green in USA’s firt-ever bowl game. He also graded better than 80 percent agaisnt both South Carolina and Mississippi State with grades of 83 and 81 respectively.
He helped the Jaguars become the fastest NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision school to play in a postseason bowl game after receiving their first invite to the inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in only their second season of full FBS membership.
The Rimington Award honors the most oustanding center in NCAA Division I-A college football at the end of the year. In addition to the two watch lists, Scelfo was selected to the First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference by Phil Steele Publications and preseason Second-Team All-League by Athlon Sports.
Track and Field/Cross Country
The Sun Belt Conference released the 2014-15 Team GPA award winners on Tuesday with USA men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams claiming honors in both the fall and spring semesters.
The men posted a combined cumulative GPA of 3.19 to earn honors in cross country in addition to winning the league title at the Sun Belt Championships in Mobile on November 2 at Battleship Memorial Park.
The women’s cross country team posted a 3.67 GPA during the last year to be honored as well.
Both programs received the Team GPA award in track and field as the men had a 3.17 GPA over the last two semesters. This made USA the only male track team in the conference to finish with a group average over 3.00. The women posted a GPA of 3.41.
This marks the second year in a row that USA has earned the Team GPA award in men’s and women’s cross country as well as the second consecutive season that USA also earned the honor in track.
Individually 26 women and 22 men from the two programs had a 3.0 GPA or higher last semester with a combined 28 team members earning spots on the Dean’s List.
More preseason watch list action this week for the South Alabama Jaguars as Aleem Sunanon was selected to be among the 30 student-athletes selected to the Watch List for the 2015 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award.
Sunanon is the only representative from the Sun Belt Conference on the list.
Over the last two seasons Sunanon has led the Jaguars in scoring. Last season the 5’7″ 170-pound junior was a second-team All-Conference selection by Phil Steele Publications after he went 15-of-18 on field goal attempts, including making his final eight attempts. He also went 24-of-26 on extra point attempts. He tied for 12th nationally after converting 83.3 percent of his field-goal attempts and shared the league lead in the category. He also ranked third in the SBC and 55th in the country with 1.15 field goals per game.
Sunanon recorded a season-best 12 points on two occasions by connecting on three field goals and all three extra points in a win over Georgia State. He tied a school record after going 4-for-4 on field goal attempts against South Carolina.
In 2013 as a redshirt freshman he scored a school season-record 91 points by going 18-of-23 on field goals and 37-of-39 on extra-point attempts and was selected as honorable mention all-conference. He led all Sun Belt kickers in points and field goals per game and ranked among the top 20 nationally in the latter category. He finished second among all players in the conference in scoring average. He hit a season-high three field goals on four occasions, including a school-record 12 in a row over the Jaguars final seven games.
After only two seasons as the Jaguars placekicker, Sunanon has already set a program career record with 33 field goals and stands second on the all-time list with 160 total points and an 80.5 percent success rate on field goal attempts.
The award is named for Lou ‘The Toe’ Groza, an NFL Hall of Fame kicker who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954.
On November 5, semifinalists will be announced. On November 23, three finalists will be announced. The Winner will be announced on December 10 as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
The Jaguar Men’s Basketball team will face North Carolina State and LSU in November as part of the Legends Classic as announced by the Gazelle Group on Thursday.
USA and NC State will face off on November 15 and then LSU on November 19 with times for both games will be announced at a later date.
NC State and LSU are two of four regional hosts for the multi-team event with semifinals and finals set for November 23 and 24 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
This will mark the first meeting between the Jaguars and the NC State Wolfpack on the hardwood, led by former Alabama men’s basketball coach Mark Gottfried who took NCSU to the Sweet 16 of the 2015 NCAA Tournament with a 22-14 record.
The USA vs LSU matchup will mark the third time these two teams have faced off since 2010 and the second in the Maravich Center. The last time the two teams faced each other the Jaguars defeated LSU 79-75 in overtime in 2011.
USA will be one of four teams scheduled to participate in the Legends Classic subregional in Kennesaw, GA including IUPUI, Belmont and host Kennesaw State.