The Jaguars now get to play the waiting game.
With the 35-28 win over New Mexico State, the Jags are assured a bowl birth, unlike three seasons ago when the Jags were bowl eligible and on the outside looking in for a bowl (which they wouldn’t get). This season they are assured they are getting a bowl as bowl tie-ins are chaotic to say the least.
As of writing this, ESPN projects the Jags to play Air Force in the Arizona Bowl on December 30. However, that is only speculation at this point. Until the bowl match-ups are announced, the Jags could be going just about anywhere.
Everyone should be proud of what South Alabama has accomplished by earning this bowl birth. They overcame numerous injuries (10 starters among others) to get here. No other has gone to two bowl games in their first four FBS seasons.
Now, for the game itself.
South Alabama found themselves trailing New Mexico State in the fourth quarter but were not going to fall short of bowl eligibility for a second consecutive season.
A run of 21 unanswered points started with Dallas Davis connecting with senior Josh Magee for a 76 yard, game-tying touchdown. But if you ask head coach Joey Jones or quarterback Dallas Davis, the play of the game may have come on the next Jaguar possession. Davis dropped back to pass and had the pocket collapsing around him. Davis found an opening sprinted for it, then Magee made a key block on the outside which allowed Davis to get the first down and extend the drive.
The Jaguars opened the scoring on their second possession when, on the second play, Davis handed off to Xavier Johnson and he found an opening and took the ball 51 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown.
The Aggies would answer in the second quarter after a quarterback change. Conner Cramer would find an opening and scamper 50 yards, then on the next play he would give it to running back Larry Rose who took it 30 yards to the end zone and just like that it was a tie game all over again.
The Aggies were close in on another score after Rose ran for 51 yards but was tripped up at the 7 yard line by Neiko Robinson on the biggest play of the first half. Two plays later Neiko would force a fumble at the Jaguar 6 yard line which Quinton Dent recovered and allow the Jags to run the time out in the half after trying to make an attempt at a couple big plays to get some points on the board before halftime.
The Aggies began the second half with the ball but Devon Earl picked off Cramer at the Jaguar 26 and returned it 23 yards to the 49, but an Aggie penalty placed the ball at the Aggie 34. Then a heavy dose of Xavier and Dami with Magee completion and a Davis first down run, would put the Jags on top 14-7.
The Aggies would tie it up and take the lead early in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing kickoff a trio of offsetting unsportsmanlike penalties were called then Davis found Magee for the tying touchdown.
After forcing a three and out, the Jags demonstrated their ground game dominance with another steady dose of Xavier and Dami but a key run by Davis for 29 yards on 2nd and 18 kept the drive alive and eventually into the end zone to retake the lead.
On the next Jaguar possession, Davis to Gerald Everett got the possession started with a 24 yard hookup, then it would be capped off by Xavier finding a hole in the middle of the Aggie defense, getting tripped, recovering and taking it to the house for a 35-21 lead with 2:28 left in the game.
The Aggies would add one more score to make in interesting but the Jags hands team handled the onsides kick perfectly to seal the game.
The Jags ended the game with 521 yards of total offense, 282 on the ground and 239 through the air. The Aggies finished with 463 total yards, 353 of it through the air.
Xavier Johnson finished with 154 yards rushing on 21 attempts and three touchdowns. Dallas Davis added 82 yards on 11 carries and Dami Ayoola had 64 on 14 carries with a touchdown.
Davis was 16-of-28 passing with two interceptions and a touchdown. Magee had 135 yards on four catches and a touchdown. Everett caught six passes for 69 yards. Kevin Kutchera caught three for 21 yards and Grant Powell, Mseiah Francis and Xavier all caught one pass each.
Of Brandon McKee’s four punts, three of them were downed inside the 20.
For the Aggies, Larry Rose III was their leading rusher with 170 yards and two touchdowns while Conner Cramer added 110 yards and a touchdown.
Cramer went 7-of-15 for a 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception while Tyler Rogers, who started the game, finished 4-of-10 for 15 yards and an interception. Jonathan Boone was the top Aggie receiver with two catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
See you at the bowl game!
Also apologies for missing reviews on the last couple of games but life got busy and this is currently one of my several side-gigs.
Among the group was a dozen USA football student-athletes who will play in the Jaguars first-ever bowl game just one week removed from graduation. The group also included five who were on the soccer team when they earned the programs first-ever Sun Belt Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament berth in 2013. The group includes an all-league selection from the 2013 baseball team that also participated in the NCAA Tournament.
Morgan Motes and Tatum Perry were both in 20 or more matches as seniors during the 2013 season as their team finished 14-6-3 after their initial national postseason contest. Carlaine Myers, Tina Schaar and Linsey Snavely also contributed that season.
Earlier in 2013, Matt Bell was a second-team All-SBC selection after the Jags posted a 43-20 record and earning a second seed at the NCAA Starkville Regional.
Terrell Brigham and Ucambre Williams were both selected to the second-team All-SBC this week with Melvin Meggs earning an honorable mention selection after helping the Jaguars to a 5-3 conference record and six wins overall. Along with current teammates Drew Dearman, Brandon Bridge, Shane Doty, Trey Fetner, Qudarius Ford, Anthony Harris, Kendall Houston, Ridge James and Nathan Sassaman will all be on the field on Saturday, December 20 to face Bowling Green in the inaugural Raycom Camellia Bowl. Jay Jones, who suffered a season-ending injury in October and was the team’s leading rusher at the time, also graduated.
Other All-Conference honorees who earned their degrees following the fall semester includes Tyler Agee, Meghan Dunn and Sayann Vaezzadeh.
Former student-athletes Brandon Hallford, Jennifer Johnson, Anna Lasher, Natalie Parsons, Devin Robinson and Corey Waldon all received degrees as well.
For those who also earned their degrees, both as student-athletes and were not listed or as fans, Jaguar Nation congratulates you and also thanks you for representing the University of South Alabama in every capacity. It takes a large group of people to make up the University community and South Alabama has the best!
South Alabama director of athletics announced that the school will hold a press conference tomorrow at 1pm “pertaining to the football program”. But according to numerous Jaguar players posting on Twitter, they will be playing in their first bowl game in program history.
The press conference will be held in the John Counts Room in the Mitchell Center and will be open to the public.
**UPDATE: South Alabama will be playing in the first-annual Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, AL on December 20th with kickoff scheduled for 8:15 CST.
On Friday afternoon the Jaguars used four goals from four different players to defeated Arkansas State 4-1 to clinch the Sun Belt Conference regular season championship.
They overcame an early 1-0 deficit after six minutes with a quick doublestrike from freshman Danielle Henley and Steffi Hardy. Henley’s goal game in the 20th minute of play and went in off the goalkeeper. Hardy’s goal came on a free kick from 20 yards out in the 22nd minute.
After halftime, the Jags added two more insurance goals. Charde Hannah converted a pass from Chelsea Followwell in the 81st minute. Then freshman Rio Hardy completed the scoring at the 89:13 mark on a breakaway.
Sarah Hay made eight stops in the victory.
On Sunday, the Jags finished out their regular season schedule and extended their unbeaten streak to 15 matches with a 2-1 win over Arkansas State.
Nini Rabsatt-Smith started the scoring when she took a bad back pass to the goalkeeper and put it in the net at the 6:22 mark.
The Trojans tied the match in the 34th minute of play.
Freshman Rio Hardy broke the tie just over four minutes after the equalizing goal. Freshman Charde Hannah had a shot on goal but was saved by the UALR goalkeeper. The rebound went to Hardy who headed it into the net for the game winner.
Sarah Hay made five saves in the net for the Jags and allowed only one goal.
Next up for the Jaguars is the Sun Belt Tournament beginning November 5. The tournament will be hosted on the South Alabama campus at The Cage. The Jags will open play with a rematch against Arkansas-Little Rock at 7pm on November 5.
South Alabama’s home opener was spoiled by Mississippi State 35-3 in front of 38,129, a new record for the Jaguars.
Dak Prescott rushed for 139 yards on 14 attempts and accounted for almost 350 yards of total offense and two scores. The Bulldogs outgained the Jags 514-345 which included a 288-57 yard advantage on the ground.
Maleki Harris led the defense with a career-best 14 tackles while forcing two fumbles. Brandon Bridge went 21-of-39 passing for 203 yards while Jereme Jones catched a career high with seven catches for 76 yards. Wes Saxton added six receptions for 30 yards while Shavarez Smith and Danny Woodson Jr both finished with four catches for 52 and 38 respectively.
Terrell Brigham and Davin Hawkings each added nine stops with Montell Garner and Jerome McClain both added six.
The Jaguars couldn’t take advantage of early opportunities and suffered from several dropped passes which kept the Jags from putting seven points on the board in the red zone.
The Bulldogs forced four turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions, while recording five sacks and six passes defended.
Brandon Bridge came out of the game late in the second half and Matt Floyd moved the ball before throwing an interception to end another Jaguar threat.
“What a great atmosphere,” head coach Joey Jones said. “I want to thank our fans for coming out and supporting us. It’s so exciting for our players and everyone involved with the university, and we are excited they came out. It was an atmosphere our kids will never forget, and I appreciate our fans coming out and supporting them. I wish we would have played a little better, but you have to play great to beat those guys and we didn’t play great.”
“We knew how good they were on defense,” Jones explained. “You have to make big plays on them. We had a couple of chances early, and we didn’t take advantage of them. They kind of wore on us in the second quarter. They are a much-improved team. My hat’s off to them. They have a lot of good athletes out there, a lot of size and speed. You have to play pretty well to beat these guys, and I don’t think we played as well as we could.”
“We finished the game last week against Kent State and took a step forward, but this week we had some early opportunities we didn’t take advantage of and we just have to get it done. We have to make those plays.”
South Alabama will open their conference schedule when they host Georgia Southern at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday, September 20 for a 6:30pm kickoff.
After sitting out the first weekend of the college football season, the Jaguars are ready to start their 2014 campaign in Kent, Ohio.
The Jags ended their 2013 season with three-consecutive wins by double-digit margins including a 30-8 win in the season finale against Sun Belt Conference co-champion Louisiana-Lafayette. Now they hope to carry over that momentum into the 2014 season.
USA enters the final game of a three-game series against Kent State with an even record at 1-1. The Jags dropped their first meeting 33-25 in 2011 in Ohio, then picked up a 38-21 win last season in Mobile.
Head coach Joey Jones enters his sixth season leading the program he started from scratch during which he has earned a career mark of 31-21. With his most talented team to date, the Jaguars had nine student-athletes earning preseason All-Conference honors over the summer as voted by SBC head coaches and media. Five of those honorees came from the offensive unit which averaged 425 yards and nearly 30 points per game last season.
Senior tight end Wes Saxton, who has been named to preseason watch lists for the 2015 Senior Bowl as well as the John Mackey and Biletnikoff Awards, was one of three first-team All-SBC selections. Junior Chris May and senior Ucambre Williams are two of five lineman to be named to the first-team as well.
Senior wide receivers Shavarez Smith and Jereme Jones were both named to the second-team All-SBC team. Danny Woodson returns to the lineup after catching 26 passes for 439 yards and four touchdowns last season before missing the remainder of the season due to an Achilles injury. Braedon Bowman, Tony Ray Parnell, Claude Garrett and Alabama transfer Marvin Shinn will add depth to the Jaguars receiving corps this season.
Senior Jay Jones returns after receiving an honorable mention All-Conference selection after leading the Jags with 737 yards on 143 rushes with five touchdowns. He is joined by Kendall Houston and Terrance Timmons and adding redshirt freshman Xavier Johnson and T.J. Glover makes the move back to running back.
Senior Drew Dearman starts at left guard and helps lead a large, experienced offensive line. Melvin Meggs returns from a knee injury to start at right guard. Sophomore Joseph Scelfo takes over the starting reins at center for the Jaguars.
Ross Metheny exhausted his eligibility last season where he earned second-team All-SBC honors and led the conference in total offense per game. Senior Brandon Bridge looks to take over for Metheny and help lead the Jaguars to their first bowl game and potentially their first conference championship. Matt Floyd transferred in from South Florida and Hunter Vaughn came in from Butler (Kansas) CC to provide more depth at quarterback.
The Jaguar graduated several seniors from the defensive front seven, but return several experienced lineman who saw lots of action last season. Also returning are two seniors who were among the team leaders in tackles last season. Cornerback Qudarius Ford and linebacker Maleki Harris, both voted second-team All-SBC last season. Ford’s 76 tackles are the most among returning Jaguars but he also had six pass breakups and two interceptions. Harris added 63 tackles, 8.5 of them for loss, with a team-best seven passes defended.
Kent State dropped their first game of the season last Saturday on a last-second field goal. Quarterback Reardon showed promise after going 30-of-41 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Ernest Calhoun led the team with 11 catches for 62 yards while Chris Humphrey led the receivers in yardage with 91 yards on six catches. But the team struggled on the ground as they only gained 31 yards on 22 carries as a team.
Nate Holley led the Golden Flashes defesne with 18 stops, 12 solo and forced two fumbles to earn MAC East Division Player of the Week honors. As a team the defense forced four fumbles on four-consecutive possessions in the second half.
The game can be heard on the Jaguar radio network locally on 99.9 FM WMXC (Lite Mix 99.9) and world wide through the iHeartRadio app. You can view the game on ESPN3. The Jags and Golden Flashes kickoff is scheduled for 1pm on Saturday, September 6.
The Men’s team defeated UT-Arlington behind the leadership of the teams two seniors, Augustine Rubit and Antoine Allen, who combined to score 42 points to end their Jaguar careers on a high note with a 78-73 win.
Rubit earned his 54th career double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds, with 14 points and 10 reboudns coming in the second half alone. Allen scored 24 points with 16 of them coming in the first half. Allen nailed five three-pointers and a season-high seven rebounds.
Rubit’s Jaguar historic career ends with him in 2nd place in points, 5th place in field goals made, 3rd place in field goals attempted, 1st in free throws made and attempted, 1st in rebounds, 3rd in rebounding average, 3rd in blocks, 1st in double-doubles, and tied for 2nd in games played. He recoreded a double-double in his first game as a Jaguar and the final game as a Jaguar.
“Well first and foremost, congratulations to our two seniors, Antoine Allen and Augustine Rubit,” head coach Matthew Graves said. “Even though we didn’t play in the conference tournament, they hung tough and we finished the season with two wins. What a way to go out.”
“I think this is arguably Antoine’s best game that he has played all season,” Graves noted. “I was really proud of his effort. I thought he played more within himself tonight than he did the entire season so that’s a really big positive.”
Ken Williams and Mychal Ammons both scored 13 points each with Ammons recorded three blocks. Barrington Stevens III had five assits with only one turnover. The Jags held the Sun Belt’s leading scorer to 11 points on 2-of-17 shooting and 1-of-11 from 3-point range. He entered the game averaging 20.5 points per game.
The South Alabama women’s basketball team finished out the season with a 60-57 win over UT-Arlington as Meghan Dunn scored a career-high 23 points, including four pivotal free throws in overtime to give USA the win.
The team said farewell to seniors: Dunn, Jennifer Johnson, Olivia Mohler and Ronneka Robertson.
The Jaguar softball team won four of their five games over the weekend at the Parents’ Weekend Invitational in Boca Raton, Florida. The Jags opened the weekend with a 1-0 win over Marshall. Then came back in the nightcap and lost 1-0 to Virginia Tech.
Against Marshall Farish Beard was on top of her game and retired 19 consecutive batters to give the Jaguars a chance to win the game.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Amanda Minahan led off the inning with a single, then Gwen Jones replaced her to pinch run. Then Junior shortstop Kaitlyn Griffith delivered a two-out RBI triple to being Jones home and provide the winning margin for USA.
Against Virginia Tech the Jaguars leadoff hitter got on base in five of the seven innings but none of them could get home. The Jags left seven runners on base in the game with Stephanie Pilkington being the only Jaguar to record a hit by going 2-for-3. Emily Messer, Amanda Minahan and Taylor Rodgers all drew walks.
Hannah Campbell retired 18 consecutive batters to start the the game. In the bottom of the seventh Hokie Kylie McGOldrick led off the inning with a double to the left center gap. Katey Smith would single to center field to drive McGoldrick in for the winning run.
USA had an opportunity in the second inning after Griffith and Minahan were hit by pitches in back-to-back at-bats, then Rodgers would draw a walk but back-to-back strikeouts would end the Jaguars’ threat.
Campbell finished with five strikeouts and only one walk.
On Saturday they defeated Illinois 5-3 in an afternoon game then turned around and defeated host Florida Atlantic 7-1 in the nightcap.
The Illini jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, then doubled it with a leadoff solo homerun in the second inning. But the Jags would respond in the bottom of the second when Chloe Rathburn delivered her own solo leadoff homer to cut the lead to 2-1.
Down 3-1 in the top of the third, Amanda Minahan got the first of her three RBI ont he day with a single that scored Rodgers. Pilkington then scored on a fielders choice to tie the game at 3-3.
Illinois threatened in the top of the fifth after back-to-back hits, but Campbell retired consecutive batters to end the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth with Kaitlyn Griffith on base after being hit by a pitch, Alex Breeden belted her fourth homer of the season for the winning margin, 5-3.
On Sunday they defeated Illinois again 5-2 in eight innings.
The Jaguars sweeped the weekend series from Southern Illinois to improve to 8-7 on the season.
On Friday night, second baseman Matt Bolger delivered a walk-off RBI in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Jags the first game 4-3.
In game two on Saturday, Locke St. John struck out a career-high five batters in eight innings to lead the Jags to a 4-1 win to clinch the series. He only allowed one run and five hits for the game.
St. John threw eight consecutive scoreless innings before surrendering a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning. James Traylor pitched one scoreless inning to earn his first save of the season. He walked two and struck out one in the one inning of relief.
Not content on just clinching the series, the Jags returned on Sunday to finish off SIU, but it would go into an extra inning to do so.
Hayden Jones delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th for the Jaguars to secure the 5-4 win and the sweep.
Jaguar Davis Knapp got on base by being hit by a pitch. He would then move to third on a one-out single to left-center field by Bud Collura. Then Jones would fly a 0-1 pitch to left field allowing Knapp to tag up and score the winning run.
SIU fell to 8-6 on the season while the Jags got above .500 at 8-7.
The Jaguar Women’s basketball team battled back from a 12-point deficit at halftime only to lose 63-61 on a shot at the buzzer that would not fall.
Meghan Dunn led all scorers with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor and a perfect 5-for-5 at the free throw line. This was her eighth straight double-digit scoring game and her 17th of the season. She scored 13 of her 18 in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Johnson added 12 points off the bench with a game-high eight rebounds as she went 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 from outside the arc. She also added three blocks which was just one shy of tying her career high.
Ronneka Robertson was also in double figures with 10 points.
Texas State improved to 12-12 overall, 9-4 in Conference play. This was their sixth win in their last seven games.
The Jags fall to 7-16 overall and 5-8 in Conference play as they have lost their fourth consecutive game. They will return to action on Saturday night at the Mitchell Center against Troy in their “Pink Zone” game. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05pm.
This is the last day of 2013 as we get ready to ring in 2014. This is a good time to reflect back on this year in South Alabama Sports.
Some of our favorite moments of 2013 where: USA Softball winning their second consecutive SBC title, hosting an NCAA Regional and having seven named to the All-America List; USA Baseball making the NCAA Starkville Regional; USA Volleyball second half of the season to make the SBC Tournament, Freshman Mechell Daniel, Jessica Lewis and Mallory Moore weekly honors down the stretch of the season; USA Football’s thrilling wins over Tulane and Western Kentucky, how close they were to potentially beating Tennessee in Knoxville, their domination in their final three games of the season against Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette to earn bowl eligibility in their first season eligible; USA Basketball’s Augustine Rubit’s being named Player of the Year and his year of breaking both school and conference records.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!