South Alabama Come From Behind To Defeat Western Kentucky 31-24

September 15, 2013 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 
The Jaguars rally at mid field after they enter the field to just prior to kickoff against Western Kentucky on Saturday, September 14, 2013.

The Jaguars rally at mid field after they enter the field to just prior to kickoff against Western Kentucky on Saturday, September 14, 2013.

The University of South Alabama football team fought back from an 11-point deficit at halftime to tie the game in the fourth quarter and then get the winning touchdown in the last two minutes of the game to defeat conference foe Western Kentucky 31-24. The Jags improve to 2-1 on the season and 1-0 in the conference while Western Kentucky falls to 1-2 on the season and 0-1 in Sun Belt play.

Senior cornerback Tyrell Pearson was key to helping the Jaguars defeat the Hilltoppers. He had not seen any playing time in the previous 11 quarters of play until the fourth quarter of the game against Western Kentucky. But he made two key plays in the final stanza to help propel the Jags to the win.

With less than three minutes left in the game, Doughty’s pass is picked off by Pearson with only green turf between him and the endzone to set up the Jaguars go-ahead touchdown. Then with Western Kentucky facing 4th and 10 at the Jaguar 13 needing a touchdown with :05 left in the game, Pearson would pick off Doughty’s pass in the endzone to seal the victory.

The Hilltoppers opened the game with a 5 play, 79 yard drive spanning 2:40 to quickly go ahead 7-0. However the Jaguars would respond with their own drive. Highlighted with passes by Ross Metheny to Jereme Jones for 18 yards, Wes Saxton for 7 yards, Danny Woodson Jr for 9 yards to get down to the Hilltopper 37 yard line. Then Metheny would run for 13 yards before hitting Shavarez Smith for 15 yards for a 1st and Goal at the WKU 9 yard line. Facing 4th and goal inside the 1 yard line and after a time out, Metheny would lean on his offensive line and get the touchdown to cap off the 10 play, 75 yard drive spanning 4:14 to tie the game at seven.

The Hilltoppers would put together another scoring drive of 15 plays, 73 yards taking 7:34 off of the clock to take a 14-7 lead over the Jaguars.

The Jags next possession would begin with :32 left in the first quarter at their own 28 yard line. A rush by Jay Jones for four yards would end the first quarter. Starting the second quarter, Metheny would find Saxton for a 37 yards pass to get down to the ‘topper 31 yard line. The Jags would only be able to get to the 25 yard line before behind held to a 42 yard Aleem Sunanon field goal to cut the Hilltopper lead to 14-10. The drive was 6 plays, 47 yards and took 1:36 off the clock.

The Jaguar defense stiffened and opened the WKU possession with a 12 yard sack of Brandon Doughty by Romelle Jones to put them 2nd and 22 at their own 27 yard line. On 4th and 16, WKU would boom a 52 yard punt and T.J. Glover would lose two yards on the return to be downed at the Jaguar 13 yard line.

After getting a first down on a Trey Fetner run around the right side of the line out to the Jaguar 27 yard line, Metheny would be sacked for a 13 yard loss back to the 14 yard line. The Jags would not be able to get a first down and Scott Garber’s punt would go 42 yards and the returner would lose a yard on the return to the WKU 42. A holding penalty would back them up to the 32 yard line with 9:10 left before halftime.

The Hilltoppers would put together a 6 play, 68 yard drive over 3:23 to score a touchdown on a 20 yard pass for Western Kentucky to take a 21-10 lead with 5:47 left in the second quarter.

The ensuing USA possession would start at their own 25 yard line but on the first play they Metheny would connect with Saxton again for 23 yards out to the 48 yard line. Facing 4th and 1 at the WKU 43, Coach Jones would call a time out after lining up for a punt. After the time out, the snap in the punt formation would go to Trey Fetner and he would roll out to the right and try to connect with Jereme Jones, but the ball would fall incomplete to turn the ball over on downs with 3:20 left before halftime.

The Jags received the ball to begin the second half. Glover would return it from the two yard line out to the 27 before being hit and fumbling the ball forward where Desmond LaVelle would recover it for the Jaguars at the 39 yard line. Brandon Bridge would enter the game at quarterback and after back-to-back incompletions, he would find Corey Waldon for a 15 yard first down into Western Kentucky territory at the 46 yard line. He would take a seven yard sack but would connect with Saxton for a 24 yard gain to the ‘topper 29 yard line. After another seven yard loss by Bridge, Dinham would gain 10 yards on a rush to set up Sunanon’s 43 yard field goal that he would put through the uprights. The USA drive went 35 yards over nine plays spanning 3:25 to cut the Hilltopper lead to 21-13 with 11:35 left in the 3rd quarter.

South Alabama’s defense would force a punt on the next WKU possession, only allowing one first down and 24 total yards.

Starting at their own 11 yard line with 8:59 left in the 3rd quarter they would begin a critical drive, both for the team and for the fans in the stands. Brandon Bridge would pull the ball down and run for 23 yards out to the Jaguar 38 on 3rd and 6 for a fresh set of downs and getting the Jaguar offense in gear. Jay Jones would rush for five yards, then Bridge would find Bryant Lavender for six yards out to the Jaguar 49 yard line. After an eight yard sack, Bridge would load up and connect with Jereme Jones for 25 yards and a first down at the WKU 34 yard line.

Facing 3rd down and 4 at the WKU 28, Coach Jones would call his second time out of the half with 5:04 left in the 3rd quarter. Bridge would connect with Jereme Jones again for seven yards and another key first down. on 3rd and 8, Bridge would scramble for 15 yards and slide down at the 4 yard line. Jay Jones would punch it in with 3:23 left in the game to cut the Jaguars deficit to two points. Coach Jones would immediately call for a two-point conversion to try to tie the game. They would use some trickeration with a snap to the running back, a lateral to Jake Howton who would throw to a wide open Ross Metheny in the end zone to tie the game at 21.

Western Kentucky would begin at their own 28 after the kickoff. A few plays later, facing 2nd and 10 at the Jaguar 15 yard line, Romelle Jones and Clifton Crews would combine for a 12 yard sack on Doughty back at the Jaguar 27 yard line to end the 3rd quarter, a quarter in which the Jags held a time of possession advantage of 9:01 to 5:59.

Doughty’s 4th down pass would fall incomplete and they would have to settle for a 44 yard Garrett Schwettman field goal to take a 24-21 lead with 14:47 left in the game.

The ensuing kickoff would go out of bounds at the Jaguar 8 yard line, the penalty would place the ball at the 35 yard line. The Jags would have to call their second time out of the half prior to the first down play after the kickoff as the play clock was running down. On the first down play, Bridge would scramble for a 26 yard gain to the Western Kentucky 39 yard line before getting out of bounds. Jay Jones would then rush for 12 yards to the WKU 27. Bridge’s pass on 3rd and 3 at the WKU 20 intended for Saxton would fall incomplete but Sunanon would drill a 37 yard field goal to tie the game at 24-24 with 12:28 left in the game.

On the ensuing WKU possession, Anthony Wales would return the kickoff 30 yards out to the WKU 45 yard line to begin the drive. A few plays later, facing 4th and 2, Bobby Petrino would decide to go for the first down, but the Jaguar defense would hold as the pass would fall incomplete giving South Alabama the ball at the Jaguar 47 yard line with 10:25 left in the game.

Ross Metheny would return to the game and would connect with Shavarez Smith for a leaping catch for a 50 yard gain at the Western Kentucky 3 yard line. Kendall Houston appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown, but after review, they placed the ball at the one foot line for 3rd and goal. Metheny would be unable to punch it in and Coach Jones decided to kick what seemed like an easy three points. However, Sunanon’s 17 yard kick from the right hashmarks would stay right of the goalpost leaving the game tied at 24-24.

Western Kentucky would take over at their own 20 yard line and drive down to the Jaguar 46 before Doughty’s 3rd down pass was intercepted by Alex Page at the WKU 42 yard line with 4:24 left in the game.

Looking like the Jaguars were going to be able to drive down and set up a game-winning score while milking the clock, Western Kentucky would force a fumble by the sure-handed Jereme Jones to give them the ball at their own 17 yard line with 2:59 left in the game.

On 3rd and 10, Doughty would connect with Norris for 29 yards and a first down at the WKU 46 yard line. But on the very next play, Tyrell Pearson would make a break on the throw and intercept it at midfield for what looked like a pick-six touchdown. However, he would be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for celebration at the 1 yard line, negating the touchdown. The 15 yard penalty would back it up to the 16 yard line with 2:12 left in the game.

Jay Jones would open the possession with a two yard rush to the WKU 14 and forcing Petrino to use one of his time outs with 2:02 left. Metheny would rush for 12 yards and a first down at the two yard line before getting out of bounds and stopping the clock. Kendall Houston would only manage a one yard gain to around the 1 yard line forcing Petrino to use another time out with 1:46 left in the game. Trey Fetner would finally put the ball in the end zone to give the Jaguars a 31-24 lead with 1:38 left in the game.

The Hilltoppers would field the kickoff at their 13 and return it 21 yards to their own 34 yard line. Montell Garner would be flagged for pass interference spotting the ball at the 43 yard line with an automatic first down. Andrews would rush for 15 yards to the Jaguar 42 yard line. Another pass interference would be called, this time on Maleki Harris to place the ball at the 41 yard line. The Hilltoppers would get down the Jaguar 13 yard line with a 1st and 10 and time continuing to run. Alex Page would put pressure on Doughty to force and incomplete pass. After another incomplete pass, the Jags would call a time out on 3rd and 10 to set their defense and get a quick breather.

After the time out, Pat Moore would put the pressure on Doughty to for another incomplete pass bring up 4th and 10 at the 13 with :05 left in the game. Bobby Petrino would use his final time out to set up his last chance. This time Doughty would be pressured again and Tyrell Pearson would intercept it in the end zone to seal the Jaguar victor, 31-24.

South Alabama was outgained by Western Kentucky in total yards 427 – 414, passing yards 282 – 270 and rushing yards 145 – 144. WKU had 26 first downs to the Jaguars 18. The Hilltoppers ran 74 offensive plays, while the Jags ran 66. WKU converted 9-of-17 third downs while South Alabama converted 5-of-13.

Jay Jones led the Jags with 49 yards rushing on 11 carries. Bridge added 42 on six carries. Dinham and Metheny both added 22 yards.

Ross Metheny went 11-of15 for 193 yards and was sacked once. Bridge wen 5-of-11 for 77 yards and had two sacks. Fetner went 0-of-1.

Receiving, Wes Saxton had 91 yards on four receptions. Shavarez Smith had 72 yards on three catches. Jereme Jones added 68 yards on four receptions. Woodson, Waldon, Lavender and Dinham all also had catches in the game as well.

Qudarius Ford led the defense with 12 tackles. Enrique Williams was right behind him with 11 and combined with another Jaguar for a tackle for loss. Clifton Crews had six tackles and a half of a sack. Romelle Jones added four stops including 1.5 sacks.

“The game was as exciting as it gets. I can’t take any more of those kind of games,” Jag head coach Joey Jones joked after the game. “That’s three in a row that have come down to the last play. But I’ll take the win.”

“I’m so excited for our guys, they fought through until the end,” he continued. “Last year we weren’t making plays at the end of the game, this year we are.”

Metheny stated after the game, “I think we executed at a higher level tonight, offensively. Going in tonight I think we had a better game plan and to be able to respond to adversity the way we did. We just executed at a high level tonight. We can see what we can do offensively when we do that.”

“That’s a tough loss, we had our opportunities to win the game,” said Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino. “Starting right at the end of the first half, we have control of the game and a chance on a two-minute drive to go score, and we don’t take advantage of the opportunity. They (South Alabama) made some plays in the second half. We had our chances at the end, we dropped a couple of touchdown passes and threw an interception, so we just didn’t get it done. I thought we would come down here and perform well, so I’m pretty disappointed in our performance but you have to take your hat off to South Alabama. They played well.”

“I want to commend coach Petrino and his team. Western Kentucky is a great football team. We knew that coming in,” Jones stated. “They have a first-class organization, they do things right. For us to come out on the winning side against those guys is definitely the biggest win we’ve had since I’ve been here at South Alabama. You saw how big and physical they were, and our guys stood up to the challenge.”

South Alabama will have an off week before returning to action in Knoxville, Tennessee on September 28 when they face the University of Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.

Monday Press Conference

November 20, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones speaks with sideline reporter Pat Greenwood heading into halftime against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones held his weekly press conference. Coach Jones was joined by wide receiver Bryant Lavender and linebacker Bryson James to reflect on the Jaguars game against Middle Tennessee and to preview their trip to Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend.

Below are some highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones opened the press conference with his opening statement. “It’s been a long journey from playing our first Sun Belt game with Troy to this point. One thing I think is that we have become a better football team throughout the season, we’ve probably improved more throughout this time than any time we ever have as evidenced by our team playing with a team like Middle Tennessee, who is probably going to play for the [Sun Belt] championship. It’s 17-12 in the fourth quarter and we had chances to make plays and win the ball game, and we don’t do that.”

“But we are right there,” Jones continued. “I think that we have found out that we can play with Sun Belt teams now. Do we have to get better and learn how to win games? No doubt about it. But in our first year I’m real pleased with the progress, though I am certainly not happy with the results at this point. We are at a point where we want to be, though we wish we had won a few more games.”

Jones then spoke about what concerns him the most about Louisiana-Lafayette. “Offensively they have really become much better, they are running their quarterback a lot more. Earlier in the year they were careful to run him because they lost their other quarterback, but now they have [Terrance] Broadway in there and he is doing a great job running the football. He is scary when he pulls it down. And they are throwing it well all the time, they were already good at that, so it has given diversity in that they can run it or throw it. They have big offensive linemen who run the zone very well, they have a complete offense that you have to defend all over the field.”

“They are playing with a lot of confidence,” he continued. They are good on defense. They are flying to the ball. They lost a couple of games a few weeks ago to North Texas and Arkansas State, but have bounced back with big wins including over Western Kentucky. They are playing really well right now with a chance to get into a big bowl game, that’s what’s on their agenda at this point.”

“For us, it’s another Sun Belt game and another chance for us to get a Sun Belt win, that’s what our kids are looking forward to.”

Jones then spoke about how facing similar quarterbacks this seas will help to prepare them for Louisiana-Lafayette. “It’s helped that we have played against a lot of spread teams in this league who have great quarterbacks, but I think Broadway is probably the best runner that we will face. He can pull it down, he is just like a running back with the ball in his hands, he can break tackles and has good speed, so he can run for 50 or 60 yards easily. We have to be smart about what we do and be in good position on defense.”

He was then asked about how he feels about the Jaguars defense. “We do a great job every preparing, I really want to compliment our staff and what they do scheme-wise to get ready for games. Our players are buying into it, playing hard-nosed football and getting after it. If we don’t give up the big plays in games that we continue to talk about we would be doing great defensively. But I am real pleased with how we are playing defensively overall, we have given the ball back to the offense several times on three-and-outs, they’ve done a great job.”

“We are preparing for this team like anyone else, but experience against some of the teams in this league has helped us.”

Coach Jones then spoke about the Jaguars game against Middle Tennessee again. “After the second quarter of the game [Saturday] we are down three running backs for this year. We lost Brandon Ross early in the year, then we lost Demetre [Baker] and Kendall [Houston], so we are basically with our fourth-string running back in the ball game. You lose that depth at running back and it certainly is a factor. I think that hurt the running game a little bit in the second half. The backs we have left are smaller backs that are really good outside runners, but are probably not guys you want to pound inside. Losing that in the second half hurt us offensively.”

“In the first half I thought we had a really good half,” Jones continued. We had 220 yards but only had six points to show for it, but we moved the ball fairly well. Our running back situation became pretty thin in the second half.”

“They [Baker and Houston] are day-to-day, we will find out more toward the end of the week.”

Wide receiver Bryant Lavender began by talking about what he has learned while competing in the Sun Belt Conference. “We had a lot of high hopes going into the season. It hasn’t gone the way that we planned it. At this level you have to make plays. You need big-chunk plays from an offensive standpoint, and just have to keep grinding. You have to have faith in the defense that if we [offense] go three-and-out that they will get the ball back for us or sometimes get a defensive score.”

Lavender then spoke about how competitive the team has been in conference play this season. “We expected to be in the games and win some of them that we play. We are very confident in our abilities. That’s why we were brought here, to play ball and get an education. Being uneasy about being able to play with these guys [conference competition] was not a question. It was whether or not we could make the play or make the tackle when we needed it. Unfortunately, we have not done that in most of the games like we should have. But we have learned that you have to make the play in the close games.”

He then spoke about the importance of finishing strong in the last two games of the season. “It would be great for the program and our university to close out [the season] with another conference win and a win at Hawaii, just to send us [into the offseason] on a good note. Last season, we did not finish out on a good note losing to Cal-Poly. It would set another stone for our program to get another Sun Belt victory. It would be great for us and would give us a jump-start on what we need to do for the upcoming year. It would catapult us into the next season, and have us ready to work even harder. When you get that last taste of victory, you got to have more. We haven’t had the taste of victory in a long time.”

Lavender then spoke about how the experience of playing in the Sun Belt Conference this season will be beneficial to next season. “We have to understand as a team that nobody will give us a win, or no one is going to give us a chance to make a play. We have to go out there and take it. We have to have that dog mentality. But we understand there are going to be times where there will be bad plays. You have to have a short-term memory. You can’t remember what you did last play, because it will take you two plays to get ready for the next play if you do that. You just have to keep pushing, and we have to keep pushing each other and have confidence in one another that we are going to get it done.”

Linebaker Bryson James spoke about what he has learned in competing in the Sun Belt Conference this season. “We [defense] have found that not allowing the big play means everything. That’s one thing that [defensive coordinator] coach [Bill] Clark always tells us that it’s the one play, missed tackles and little things like that, that hurts us. I have learned that it’s about preparation and watching film.”

James also spoke about how competitive the team has been this season in conference play. “I think we have brought it to every team we have played this year. We played as hard as we can. We haven’t started out as fast as we have wanted to in every game. As a whole, I feel like we haven’t actually played a full game. We’re all brothers and we all play as one, but as a unit we haven’t put together a full game.”

He then also addressed the importance of finishing strong in the last two games of the season. “For me, we’re going back to the home state of Louisiana. All of my family is going to be there, so I just want to put on a show and hopefully my teammates will do the same and we can come out with a win.”

Finally James spoke about how the experience of playing in the Sun Belt Conference can be beneficial to next season. “I talk to a lot of the players, and I tell them that there are a lot of the little things that play a part in the game –  skipping a class, a rep or workout – those little things count. It’s always the little things that people look over, and they tend to get into a habit. We’re going to be leaders next year, and those are the things we have to stop.”

Jags Fall To Middle Tennessee 20-12 On Senior Day

November 18, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Seniors gather near midfield as the game captains B.J. Scott, Jake Johnson, Anthony Taylor and Trey Clark meet at mid field to represent South Alabama for the coin toss. From left to right: Andy Dalgleish, Cori Barnett, Michel Chapuseaux, Gabe Loper, Jonathan Cameron, Tremain Smith, Kennedy Helms, Ellis Hill and Ryne Baxter.


The South Alabama Jaguars fell to Middle Tennessee 20-12 on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in another hard fought game for the Jags. Logan Kilgore threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns while Jordan Parker carried the ball 24 times for 154 yards to lead the Blue Raiders over the Jaguars on Senior Day.

The Jaguars turned the ball over four times in the game while Middle Tennessee did not commit a single turnover. The conference win moved the Blue Raiders into a tie atop the Sun Belt Conference standings with Arkansas State (6-1 SBC) with a 5-1 conference record.

Jake Johnson had 15 total tackles while B.J. Scott added 11 tackles in their final home game in a Jaguar uniform. Johnson equaled his highest total of the season while Scott tied his career best. Terrell Brigham and Alex Page both added 10 tackles each in the game as well.

“We can’t do that and win,” Jag head coach Joey Jones said of the turnovers. “We talk about it and work on it. It’s just part of the game that happens sometimes. But the bottom line is if we don’t take care of the ball, we’re not going to win. That’s very simple. We have to do that to have a chance to beat these teams.”

“I’m awful proud of the way our kids fight,” Jones continued. They continue to do that. We’re just not quite finishing games and making plays at the end. But I’m real proud of our young men. That is a team that’s probably going to play for the conference championship. The positive is that we’re close to playing with those teams. The negative is we’re not making enough plays in games to win, and we have to do that. I’m proud of the way they’re fighting. They certainly aren’t giving up, and are representing the University of South Alabama in a positive way.”

This was the fourth consecutive game that the Jags got on the scoreboard first with a 19 yard field goal after they drove 74 yards in 14 plays on their opening possession. Metheny connected with Jereme Jones for an eight yard gain on third and two to get the first first down of the drive. The reception also extended Jones’ streak of consecutive games with a reception.

But the Blue Raiders would take the lead shortly afterwards. They used three plays of 20-plus yards in a four-snap sequence to take the lead with just over five minutes left in the first quarter. The previous week against North Texas, the Jaguar defense only allowed two plays of 20-plus yards.

South Alabama had two drives end in the second quarter with interceptions within the opponents 10 yard line by Harley and T.T. Barber.

MTSU would drive for a field goal with just over two minutes remaining before halftime to extend their lead to 10-3. But the Jags would mount a drive of their own at the end of the half. The Blue Raiders would force what they thought was a three and out, but a penalty for running into the kicker would give the Jags the yardage they needed for a first down. On the first down play, Metheny would find Lavender open down the left sideline for 22 yards to start moving the ball. Chapuseaux would hit a 45 yard field goal with seconds remaining to cut the MTSU lead to 10-6 at halftime.

South Alabama would control the ball for over 18 minutes in the first half, but would only control the ball for eight minutes in the second half.

MTSU would extend their lead on the opening drive of the second half when Kilgore would find his receiver open on a slant pattern from the six yard line to cap off a 10 play, 75 yard drive that spanned over five minutes. That would extend their lead to 17-6.

After a forced fumble at the Jaguar 41, the Blue Raiders had a great opportunity to add to their lead, but the Jaguar defense held firm and forced a field goal attempt from 35 yards that would sail wide left.

The Jags would open the next possession with pass completions from Metheny to Jones for 12 yards. Jones would leave the game after the reception due to a concussion. After the injury time out, Metheny would hit Gabe Loper down the left sideline for a 45 yard completion to the Blue Raider 20 yard line. Metheny would cap off the drive with an 18 yard touchdown pass to Corey Besteda. The two point conversion would fail to lead the Blue Raider lead at 17-12 with under four mintues left in the third quarter.

MTSu would add another field goal but the Jaguars would not be able to put together another scoring drive against the Blue Raider defense for the final score of 20-12.

The Blue Raiders would outgain the Jags 445 to 338 overall including 212 to 149 rushing and 233 to 189 passing. Both teams would run 70 plays on offense in the game. MTSU would end up holding a 33:31 to 26:29 time of possession edge over the Jags.

Terrance Timmons would lead the Jaguar rushing attack with 76 yards on 18 carries, Metheny would gain 32 yards on 11 carries. Kendall Houston would add 22 yards on 7 carries before injuring his ankle and being held out of the remainder of the game. Glover would rush four times for 19 yards as well.

Metheny would go 17-of-30 for 189 yards with three interceptions and a touchdown. Jereme Jones would lead the receiver corps with six receptions for 53 yards in the game. Lavender would catch three for 41 yards, Besteda would add two for 29 and Timmons would catch two for -1 yards. Loper would catch one for 45, Saxton caught one for 11 yards, Glover caught one for 8 yards and Houston caught one for 3 yards.

“I told our players before the game and told them at half time that nobody should be surprised by the score of the game. We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game,” Blue Raider head coach Rick Stockstill said. “We knew that South Alabama was good on defense and that nobody had really run past them or blown them out. All of their games had been close, so we knew it was going to be this type of game. We practiced for this type of game and we got exactly what we thought we would get.”

South Alabama will play their final two games of the season on the road starting this weekend with a trip to Louisiana-Lafayette. The game will be aired on ESPN3 with a 4pm kickoff.

Jags Fall To FIU After Valiant Rally In Second Half

November 3, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Bryant Lavender hauls in the pass from Ross Metheny at the goal line against FIU, but would be called down inside the one yard line.

South Alabama put up a valiant fight in the second half but just could not erase the first half deficit to fall at home against Florida International 28-20.

Coming into the game the FIU Golden Panthers were chosen to win the Sun Belt Championship in the preseason, but where 1-8 and were 0-5 in the Sun Belt. Head coach Joey Jones told everyone all week that FIU was a better team than what their record said. They definitely were a big team and played well in the first half.

The South Alabama defense held FIU to 31 yards in the second half, a mere 18 yards rushing and 13 yards passing to help the team fight it’s way back into the game.

The Jags scored first but FIU would score 28 consecutive points in the first half to go into halftime with a 28-7 lead. But the Jags would not allow them to score again for the remainder of the game.

“Obviously we dug too big a hole in the game and got behind 28-7 at the half,” coach Jones said. “We made a good comeback but we didn’t score down there in the red zone in the second half. That was the tale-tale sign of the game right there. We dug too big a hole early.”

“They’re very athletic on the defensive front and they just get after you,” Jones said of FIU. “They held Western Kentucky to 14 points and we knew they were good on defense.”

South Alabama’s first score came on their first possession. They drove 53 yards in nine plays after Pat Moore recovered a fumble. T.J. Glover scored on a 15 yard run around the left side, which was his first rushing touchdown since November of the 2010 season, to take a 7-0 lead with 7:36 left in the first quarter.

FIU would answer the Jaguar score with a 76 yard drive on eight plays and capped off by a 26 yard touchdown pass from Jake Medlock to Willis Wright. They would score again with a 27 yard pass before the first quarter ended to take a 14-7 lead.

In the second quarter FIU would score their third touchdown of the game on a 19 yard run by quarterback Medlock with 7:45 left in the second quarter to make the score 21-7 FIU.

Later Kendrick Rhodes would score with on a 2 yard rush to pull ahead 28-7 with 1:07 left in the second quarter.

The Jags would down the second half kickoff for a touchback to start on the 25 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Ross Metheny would find an open Corey Besteda over the middle and he would take it in for a 75 yard touchdown to cut the FIU lead down to two scores, 28-14. That touchdown reception was the longest pass play in school history.

The Jaguar defense would hold FIU to a three and out on their first possession of the second half. Glover would return the punt down to the FIU 19 yard line, but they would not be able to put the ball into the end zone. Michel Chapuseaux would connect on the 39 yard field goal attempt to further cut into the FIU lead, 28-17.

FIU would drive from their own 32 yard line down to the Jaguar 42 before the drive would stall out and force a punt. Glover would call for the fair catch at the Jaguar 9 yard line. On third and seven from their own 30 yard line, Demetre Baker would rush for four yards but would fumble the ball and it would be recovered by FIU at the Jaguar 33 yard line.

Again the Jaguar defense would force a three and out. The FIU punt would fly into the end zone for a touchback.

On first down from their own 20 yard line, Metheny would run for 13 yards out to the 33 yard line. After Terrance Timmons rushed for a five yard gain, Metheny would hit Wes Saxton for a 24 yard gain to the FIU 38 yard line. Metheny would come back and hit Corey Besteda for an 11 yard gain to the FIU 27 yard line. Then the Jags would be forced to call a time out.

After the time out, Metheny would complete another pass to Saxton for five more yards to the FIU 22 yard line. Metheny would run for two yards to set up a third and 3 at the FIU 20 yard line, when FIU would call a time out with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.

After the time out, Metheny would complete a pass to Bryant Lavender for 13 yards to the FIU 7 yard line and the end of the fourth quarter. After the break, Trey Fetner would come in to run the wildcat for a three yard gain to the FIU 4 yard line. The Jags would be forced to call a time out as the play clock was running down.

After the time out, Metheny would complete a pass to Lavender again to inside the one yard line. Fetner would come in again to take a snap from under center, but Demetre Baker, who had lined up at tight end, moved early to draw a false start penalty. Instead of third and less than one, it becomes a third and goal from the five yard line. Metheny’s pass would fall incomplete intended for Lavender again. Chapuseaux’s kick would split the uprights to make the game a one score game at 28-20 with 13:05 left in the game.

Yet again the Jags defense would hold strong and force a three and out. After a 36 yard punt the Jags would start at their own 25 yard line.

After being sacked for five yard, Metheny would run for 20 yards out to the Jaguar 40 yard line. On first down at the FIU 47 yard line, Metheny would hit Saxton again for 25 yards down to the FIU 22 yard line. Terrance Timmons would then run three consecutive times for 2, 8 and 4 yards respectively to put the ball at the FIU 8 yard line. Houston would then run for two yards to set up a third down and four at the FIU 6 yard line. Metheny’s pass intended for Saxton in the end zone would be tipped and fly incomplete for a fourth down. Chapuseaux’s kick would bounce off of the left upright, no good with 5:17 left in the game.

The Jags would force yet another three and out to get the ball back with 4:15 left in the game. After driving from their 33 yard line down to the FIU 43 yard line, Metheny would throw three consecutive incomplete passes to face a fourth down and 10. Demetre Baker would take the pitch and gain seven yards to turn the ball over on downs with 3:00 left in the game.

Once more the Jags would force a three and out and get the punt at the Jaguar 31 yard line with 35 seconds left in the game.

Metheny would be flushed out of the pocket and goes down after gaining one yard. They would get up to the line and spike the ball. On third and nine, Metheny’s pass would fall incomplete then the fourth down pass would fly high and be intercepted at the Jaguar 32 yard line. FIU would kneel on the ball once to run the final seconds off the clock.

Overall the Jags led in all offensive categories. The Jags rushed for 188 yards to FIU’s 181, threw for 270 yards to FIU’s 153 for a total yardage of 458 for the Jags to 334 for the Golden Panthers. The Jags had 22 first downs in the game to FIU’s 20 and the Jags held a 30:07 to 29:53 time of possession advantage.

The Jags committed four penalties for 33 yards while FIU committed five penalties for 49 yards in the game.

Unfortunately leading all of those statistical categories does not mean much when you don’t convert that into points on the scoreboard.

Demetre Baker beat out Ross Menthey for the leading rusher for the Jaguars. Baker rushed 15 times for 74 yards while Metheny rushed eight times for 56 yards. Glover also ran four times for 30 yards and Timmons rushed eight times for 27 yards. Fetner and Houston also got carries in the game.

Metheny went 19-of-37 for 270 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. He also took two sacks in the game.

Wes Saxton was Metheny’s favorite target in the game with six receptions for 92 yards. But Corey Besteda had the most receiving yards with 96 on three catches including the 75 yard touchdown catch to open the second half. Lavender caught four passes for 26 yards, Jereme Jones caught three for 34 yards. Waldon, Glover and Baker also caught passes in the game.

FIU’s Kendrick Rhodes rushed 27 times in the game for 149 yards to lead all rushers. Quarterback Jake Medlock was 9-of-19 for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Jake Johnson lead all defenders with 15 total tackles, seven of them being solo including one sack and a quarterback hurry. Alex Page, Enrique Williams and B.J. Scott all were next on the team with six total tackles. Enrique Willaims had one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries as well.

Montavious Williams and Will Thompson both recorded sacks in the game.

While some fans were disappointed that the Jags let a win get away from them, it is still amazing to think that in the Jags first season as an FBS transitional team we are disappointed that we should have won a game against a fellow FBS and Sun Belt team.

The Jags will travel to Denton, Texas to take on North Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm according to the schedule on the UNT Football website.

Despite Loss Jags Continue To Improve

October 29, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones chats with Ross Metheny on the sidelines just before the second half began against Florida Atlantic.

Head coach Joey Jones is proud of the way the Jags played against Louisiana-Monroe over the weekend. He sees them continuing to get better despite the score on the scoreboard. But he will quickly tell you that, despite that, he will quickly tell you that he saw mistakes that probably cost them a chance at winning, not just keeping the game close.

As coach Jones said after the game, “We played pretty good football for three quarters and we played tough. ULM is a very good football team. I’m proud of the way we played for three quarters, but they took the game under control a little bit in the fourth quarter. Their quarterback (Kolton Browning) and receivers made some great plays.”

“Overall, I’m proud of the team,” Jones continued. “There were some things we could have done better, but I’m proud of where we are and what we accomplished today. But we have to be honest with ourselves. The negative things that happened, if we fix them, we’re probably in the game even more. But the positive side of it is we’re pretty close to a team that is really good in the conference.”

“We just have to work on us,” he said in conclusion. “We’ll start fixing some things here and there, and we’re going to be there.”

ULM improved to 6-2 on the season, 4-0 in the Sun Belt, with only losses to Auburn in overtime and Baylor.

South Alabama’s record fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Sun Belt. But they will be hosting Florida International this weekend who enters with a record of 1-8 on the season, 0-5 in Sun Belt play after a 14-6 loss at home to Western Kentucky.

Dropped passes helped to stall the offense as they only went 3-of-13 on third down conversions against ULM. Also big plays continued to be problematic for big third or fourth down conversions or just long plays down the field.

Quarterback Ross Metheny has emerged as a good leader for the offense while his confidence continues to grow. He threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jereme Jones. He was adept at avoiding sacks and moving around to find an open receiver or finding some room to scramble if needed.

Including his two touchdown catches, Jereme Jones caught seven passes with Bryant Lavender catching six passes and Gabe Loper with three.

And for the first time this season, a Jaguar running back rushed for over 100 yards in a game. Demetre Baker ran 14 times for 115 yards including a 61 yarder that set up the Jags first score. This was the first 100 yard rusher since Baker’s performance against Henderson State last season.

The Jags had two sacks in the game to break their tie with last season’s number of 15 for a total of 17 this season.

The Jags and FIU kick off at 2:30 pm on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

South Alabama Post First FBS, Sun Belt Victory

October 21, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · 2 Comments 

The South Alabama Jaguars celebrate their double-overtime win against Florida Atlantic on Saturday. The win was the program’s first against an FBS opponent and also the first against a Sun Belt Conference team.

Lead by defense in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars fight their way back from a 14 point deficit in order to win it’s first ever game against a FBS opponent and also their first ever Sun Belt Conference.

Florida Atlantic would go up by 14 points early in the fourth quarter on a six yard rush on 3rd and goal. On the ensuing possession the Jags would start at their own 15 yard line but would move the ball down to the Owl 41 yards linbe before turning the ball over on downs.

The Jaguar defense would hold strong and force a three and out. The Owl punt would bounce into the end zone for a touchback.

Starting at their own 20, Metheny would come out firing by completing back to back catches to Jereme Jones for 14 and Greg Hollinger for 15 to quickly move the ball out to the Jaguar 49 yard line. After a rush for no gain by Terrance Timmons, a pass interference penalty would move the ball to the FAU 40 yard line. Then Metheny would complete a 27 yard pass to Gabe Loper to the FAU 13 yard line.

After an incomplete pass by Metheny to Jereme Jones, the Owls would be flagged for a personal foul to place the ball at the 5 yard line. Houston would go down for a loss of 3 yards back to the 8 yard line. A couple plays later the Jags are facing 4th down and goal from the FAU 7 yard line. The fourth down pass would fall incomplete but the FAU defender would be flagged for pass interference. Due to the penalty occurring in the end zone, the ball would be placed on the 1 yard line with an automatic first down.

Trey Fetner would run for a loss of one followed by Metheny rushing for no gain. After a time out, Metheny would hand the ball all to Demetre Baker who would plunge into the end zone for the touchdown to cut the Owl lead down to 31-24 with 5:45 left in the game.

The Jaguar defense would only allow four yards as they forced FAU to a three and out. The punt from their own 32 yard line would go 51 yards and T.J. Glover would lose two yards on the return to put the Jaguars first and 10 at their own 15 yard line with 3:54 left in the game.

The drive would start with a Baker rush for 18 yards before being force out of bounds at the Jaguar 33. Baker would run for another three yards on the next first down play. But back to back incomplete passes from Metheny to Jereme Jones and Gabe Loper would have the Jags facing fourth and 7 from their own 36 yard line.

The fourth down play would be another pass from Metheny to Gabe Loper down the left side, but it fell incomplete however FAU would have two flags thrown on them for pass interference. One would be declined and the other accepted to give the Jags 14 yards and an automatic first down at the midfield stripe.

Baker would rush for back-to-back gains of 8 and 4 yards for a first down at the Owls 38 yard line. Then Terrance Timmons would rush for four yards. On second and 6 at the FAU 34 yard line, Ross Metheny would find an opening and scamper 18 yards for a first and 10 at the FAU 16 yard line with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter.

After the time out, Ross Metheny would find Gabe Loper in the end zone for the 16 yard touchdown pass. Michel Chapuseaux would tack on the PAT and the Jags would have a tie game with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter.

The squib kick would be picked up and returned 11 yards to the FAU 39 yard line with 1:05 left in regulation. Graham Wilbert’s first two passing attempts would fall incomplete. But the third down pass would be caught for 19 yards to the Jaguar 42 yard line before stepping out of bounds. On the next play he would find the same receiver for another 16 yard completion to the Jaguar 26 yard line.

After an incomplete pass on first down, Pat Moore would sack Wilbert for a five yard loss back to the Jaguar 31 yard line forcing FAU to take a time out with 21 seconds remaining in regulation. After the time out, the Jags would let FAU line up before calling their final time out of the game to set up a defense for the play. After the Jaguar time out, on 3rd and 15, Wilbert would complete his pass to William Dukes, for the third time on the drive, for 16 yards and a first down at the Jaguar 15 yard line before getting out of bounds with about 15 seconds left in regulation.

Florida Atlantic head coach Carl Pelini sends out his field goal unit with Mitch Anderson, who is playing in his first game, to attempt the game winning field goal. Anderson, who already had one attempt blocked earlier in the game, would kick it low from the hashmarks and Pat Moore would get his hands up and block it with time expiring.

To begin overtime, FAU would win the toss and elect to go on defense first. The Jags, with the ball first, would start at the 25 yard line heading into the north end zone. On first down, Metheny would run for five yards to the 20 yard line. But back to back incompletions to Bryant Lavender and Greg Hollinger would force the Jags to kick a field goal from 37 yards to take a 34-31 lead, their first of the game.

FAU would then start their rebuttal possession with a four yard pass completion to the Jaguar 21 before being forced out of bounds. A run would only net two yards on second down. Then the quarterback keeper would lose one yard to the 20 yard line. Anderson would convert on the 37 yard field goal to force a second overtime.

In the second overtime, FAU would go on offense first again going into the north end zone. A two yard loss on the first down run would put the ball back at the Jaguar 27 yard line. Another rush for no gain on second down would set up third and 12 at the Jaguar 27 yard line. The third down pass would fall incomplete to force another field goal attempt from 44 yards. Kicking from the right hashmark the kick would be low again and Pat Moore would block it for the second time in the game.

South Alabama would then have the ball with the outcome of the game in their hands. Baker would run on first down for no gain. Baker would run again on second down for 7 yards. Then on third down, he would run again for no gain. After allowing the Jags to line up for the field goal attempt, Carl Pelini would call a time out to try to ice Chapuseaux.

After the time out, Chapuseaux’s 35 yard kick would never be in doubt. It flew right between the uprights and the crowd that had stayed went into complete pandemonium. The Jaguar players rushed the team on the field, coach Jones would get doused on the sidelines while FAU were quick to exit the stadium to get out from between the team and the students and band.

It was an amazing sight to behold as the Jaguars realized they broke their four game losing streak, won their first FBS game and also won their first Sun Belt Conference game.

FAU held edges in a couple key categories. They led in total yardage 461-359, passing yardage 303-179 and first downs 25-24. However the Jags did lead in rushing yardage 180-158 and time of possession 30:28 – 29:32. Penalties were down too with the Jags only being flagged four times for 50 yards while FAU was flagged 10 times for 80 yards. Neither side threw an interception. FAU fumbled once but recovered it themselves, while South Alabama fumbled twice but only lost one of them.

But FAU’s Anderson was 2-of-5 in field goals in his first ever game for the Owls, with all three misses being blocked. Michel Chapuseaux was a perfect 3-for-3 in route to the win.

FAU’s J. Wallace rushed 21 times for 101 yards to lead all in rushing. Demetre Baker, back from his suspension, rushed 16 times for 73 yards to lead the Jaguars running game. Timmons carried 11 times for 36 yards, Metheny had 13 carries for 34 yards and Glover carried 6 times for 29 yards. Jereme Jones, Trey Fetner and Kendall Houston also got carries in the game.

FAU’s Graham Wilbert was 27-of-41 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. Ross Metheny was 13-of-27 for 179 yards and one touchdown.

The game was definitely Gabe Loper’s coming out party. Loper caught four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown while also adding a blocked field goal and drawing a couple pass interference calls at key times for the Jaguars.

Jereme Jones had three catches for 19 yards and Greg Hollinger caught two passes for 34 yards. Lavender, Desmond Jones, Corey Besteda and Jared Palmer all caught a pass as well.

FAU’s William Dukes caught five passes for 119 yards and a 50 yard touchdown pass. Two other Owls had over 50 yards receiving as well.

Four Jaguars ended the game with double-digit tackles for the game, a first in school history. Terrell Brigham, B.J. Scott and Enrique Williams all recording 11 tackles and Alex Page adding 10 tackles as well. Clifton Crews and Jake Johnson both had eight tackles each as well. Darrius Morrow had four tackles and two passes defended. Pat Moore had three solo tackles all for loss to go with his two field goal blocks he was credited with.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these young men and my [coaching] staff for what they’ve done — for hanging in there,” head coach Joey Jones said in the post game press conference. “They fought every day at practice, and the main reason we won the football game is because of character. These guys were down 14 points in the fourth quarter, and I didn’t see quit in anybody’s eyes. They kept fighting and all of a sudden we had a play or two go our way, and we were in the ballgame. We got into overtime, and Michel Chapuseaux did a great job kicking field goals at the end. I don’t know how many plays we made in the fourth quarter, but it was a bunch of them. My hat’s off to this team and the coaching staff for what they’ve done.”

Loper spoke after the game about the touchdown pass from Metheny to tie the game and give the Jags a chance to go into overtime. “All credit goes to Ross. He made a perfect pass. I leaned on the defensive back like the coaches taught me to. He had my hand hooked. It was a similar play to Arkansas State last week, and I just remembered that I had to redeem myself. The coaches have been preaching all week that if the officials don’t call it, take it out of their hands and make the play. That’s all I could think about. I was just blessed to have the ball thrown so perfectly.”

Ross Metheny spoke after the game giving praise to Loper. “Talk about a playmaker. We have been trying to get Gabe on the offensive side of the ball since week one, and he definitely has a special talent and the things he can do in the air to go get the ball are special,” Metheny said. “He’s only been working as a receiver for a couple of weeks, and he already has the offense down, knows which way to line up and runs his routes really well. He’s definitely a guy we can count on, and I’m fortunate that he’s my teammate.”

Michel Chapuseaux spoke about the game winning kick after the game. “When the time had come, my heart was pounding and I was nervous. I had to settle in because I’ve practiced so long for this,” he explained. “When I start taking my steps over, I zone out everything and I tell myself to be ready for it. When I kicked it, I made sure it was between the posts and then I just turned around. I didn’t even look at it. I just let the crowd tell me if it went in, and then I had a swarm of teammates just hitting me. We definitely needed this win. We wanted it more. We didn’t give up, and this is definitely going to help us throughout the rest of the season.”

Senior Linebacker Jake Johnson spoke after the game about how the defense played. “The game is never over until it’s over. Anybody can win, anything can happen. We came back and got that touchdown. We had three blocked field goals. Chap had three kicks that he made.  We played well in all facets.”

“Defensively we had a good game plan, we just weren’t communicating as well as we should have in the first half,” Johnson continued. “We communicated better and stopped them a lot more in the second half. We just never gave up. That’s one thing you can’t ever do is give up.”

No one could say it better than Ross Metheny though. “All I can say is wow, what a game. Talk about a monkey off your back, getting the first Division I [FBS] win. We needed the signature win to propel us. We’re definitely going to embrace this win and cherish it, but we’re still hungry. We want more and we want to win more, so we’re going to come on Monday ready to work toward our next opponent.”

South Alabama will travel to face Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 6pm according to the ULL website. The game is not scheduled to be broadcast on television, however ULL does have a online video stream available.

South Alabama blocks the overtime field goal attempt by FAU’s Mitch Anderson in the second overtime possession by the Owls.

Jags Fall To Arkansas State 36-29

October 13, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 2 Comments 

South Alabama’s offense finally found a way to move the ball but cannot overcome a turnover and penalties in a 36-29 loss in Jonesboro, Arkansas to Arkansas State. The Jags would fall to 1-5 (0-2 SBC) for the season while Arkansas State would improve to 4-3 (2-1 SBC) for the season.

The Jaguar offense came to play against the Red Wolves on Saturday at Liberty Bank Stadium. The Jags took the opening possession on a 9 play 75 yard drive to open the scoring in the game. Then the defense would help them out by recovering a fumble on the Red Wolves first offensive play.

The Jags would move 16 yards in 7 plays before settling for a Michel Chapuseaux field goal to extend their lead to 10-0 with 7:52 left in the first quarter.

Chapuseaux would miss a field goal attempt, then convert another attempt as the Jags trail 14-13 at halftime. The Jags would not give up in the second half as they would score a touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game to cut the Arkansas State lead to 36-29. The Jags would not be able to recover the on-sides kick and fall on the road.

The Jags led in several statistical categories for the game. They led in first downs 24-23, rushing yards 132 – 113, passing yards 241 – 203, total offense 373 – 316, offensive plays 88 – 59 and time-of-possession 35:39 – 24:21.

Terrance Timmons was the leading rusher for the Jags with 43 yards on 13 carries, it would have been 56 yards except for a 13 yard loss late in the game. Kendall Houston added 36 yards on 18 carries, Metheny had 22 yards on 9 carries and Trey Fetner added 17 key yards on 3 carries.

With the new single-quarterback system, Ross Metheny went 24-of-38 for 241 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and a sack. T.J. Glover led the Jaguar receivers with 47 yards on 3 receptions, Corey Besteda led in receptions with 5 for 45 yards, Greg Hollinger added 30 yards on 5 catches, Jereme Jones had 44 yards on 3 catches as well. Bryant Lavender added 31 yards on three receptions, Timmons also had 3 catches for 29 yards.

The Jaguar defense held David Oku to 84 yards on 22 attempts. Ryan Aplin was 17-of-22 for 203 yards, three touchdowns and two sacks. McKissic caught seven of his passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Another key receiver, Josh Jarboe was held in check as well with only 3 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.

“You can see that this team is growing,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “I saw some great things out there tonight. We’re playing the Sun Belt champion from last year, they have a very good football team. We took them down to the wire and got to within six points in the fourth quarter, we were right where we wanted to be.”

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids,” Jones continued. Despite what’s going on with a young team, they keep fighting and we’re getting better on the field. Offensively, we took care of the football and had 24 first downs, those were big positives. There were a lot of improvements, the kids fought and were having fun. It still hurts, but it was a darn good game.”

However the penalties were a bit too much to overcome. The Jags gave Arkansas State three attempts to convert a two-point conversion to go up 14 points in the fourth quarter. On the third attempt they converted.

But this was the spark that the offense needed. They got a solid, consistent performance at quarterback since the rotation is a thing of the past.

The offense came out and scored quickly and consistently moved the ball well throughout the game. The players should be encouraged at their progress this week.

The Jags will host Florida Atlantic on Saturday, October 20th for homecoming. FAU is also 1-5 (0-3 SBC) on the season. Kickoff time for the game should be announced early this week.

Jags Fall In Starkville 30-10

September 23, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 

C.J. Bennett reads the defense while head coach Joey Jones looks on from the sidelines in Starkville Mississippi.

South Alabama (1-3) played a tough game against Mississippi State (4-0) on Saturday evening, though they came up short on the scoreboard as they lost 30-10. The difference in the game was big plays, but the Jags led or were very close in several stats.

Mississippi State scored first on a 44-yard run and had five pass completions for over 20 yards, two kickoff returns that went for over 40 yards and two interceptions that were returned over 40 yards in the game.

However statistically the Jags held their own. The Jags had more first downs than the Bulldogs (21-15), more passing yards (224-200) and led the time-of-possession (30:35-29:25) and dominated the time of possession in the fourth quarter 9:07 to 5:53. The Jags were within ten yards of matching the Bulldogs overall offensive production 356-347 total yards.

The Jags improves on last weeks 0-for-11 third down performance. They converted 5-of-15 this week. They Jaguar defense held the Bulldogs to 5-of-14 on third down themselves. While that third down conversion stat isn’t what they would like to see, it is an improvement and it was against an SEC defense.

Demetre Baker lead the Jags rushing with 12 carries for 49 yards. C.J. Bennett ran three times for 29 yards including a stunning hurdle of a Mississippi State player to gain a first down in the red zone. Unfortunately on the next play he would throw an interception inside the five yard line. Kendall Houston would rush eight times for 21 yards.

C.J. Bennett would go 14-of-26 for 154 yards with the one interception and one touchdown. Ross Metheny, the starter of the game, would go 8-of-17 for 70 yards with an interception.

Bryant Lavender led all receivers in both receptions, with six, and yards with 80. Jereme Jones and T.J. Glover both caught four passes for 49 and 12 yards respectively. Greg Hollinger had three catches for 49 yards and the only receiving touchdown of the game. Corey Walden added three catches and 17 yards. Three other Jaguars caught passes as well.

Defensively, the Jags would finish with three players racking up double-digit tackles for the first time in school history. Enrique Williams had a career best 12 tackles including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Jake Johnson and B.J. Scott both had 10 stops. Johnson had 1.5 tackles-for-loss and Scott had one TFL.

“We have some things we need to work on for sure, but I saw a lot of heart on that football field tonight,” said Jaguar head coach Joey Jones. “You’re talking about a top-23 team, and we’re a new program. We fought our rear-ends off. I’m just proud of the team as a whole, and I told them in the locker room that I could live with that. We have to get better, we’re a young team and have a long way to go, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of them tonight.”

The Jags came out inspired in the first quarter and played lights-out defensively holding Mississippi State to only 27 total yards and zero yards rushing while gaining 67 yards offensively.

After marching down the field late in the first quarter, the Jags drive stalled at the Bulldog 30 where Michel Chapuseaux attempted a 47 yard field goad which would sail wide left. The Bulldogs would respond by driving 70 yards in three plays to score the games first touchdown.

With the Bulldogs leading 17-0 just before halftime, the Jags Tyrell Pearson would intercept a Tyler Russell pass and return it 25 yards. However two snaps later the Bulldogs would intercept the Ross Metheny pass and return it 66 yards to set up a field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

Both of the Jags scoring drives would come in the second half, both drives marching over 70 yards and spanning at least five minutes each. Metheny would lead the first scoring drive that covered 71 yards in 13 plays, but the Jags would not be able to punch the ball into the end zone from inside the five yard line and would settle for a 22-yard field goal.

Around midway through the fourth quarter Bennett would guide the offense on a 12 play 78 yard scoring drive that would be capped off by an 18 yard touchdown pass to Greg Hollinger.

Jereme Jones broke the record previously held by Courtney Smith by catching a pass in his 18th consecutive game. Jereme was quoted after the game saying, “It’s special because it puts me up there with one of the best receivers [in school history], but I’m more focused on the win-loss record. We took a huge step forward, playing with a nationally-ranked SEC team. We fought with them.  It’s disappointing we couldn’t come out with the win, but we’re a work in progress.”

“We have to grow from this,” coach Jones stated. “We have to get better. We’re brand new and we’re trying to learn and find our way through it, but I was proud of what we did. We learned some things offensively. We moved the ball pretty good, but we threw a couple of interceptions in the red zone and we have to find a way to run the football down in the red zone. We have to get that done. Defensively, I thought we fought hard the whole game. Special teams weren’t as good tonight as it has been. Our coverage wasn’t that great. We gave them good field position a couple of times on kickoffs.”

The Jags return home to host their first Sun Belt game when they face the Troy Trojans at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 2:30pm.

On the third down play on Mississippi State’s first possession, defensive end Anthony Taylor went down in extreme pain. Trainers from both teams cared for him and appeared to place an air splint on his right leg. We were not able to get any information about his status.

Jags Defeat Nicholls State 9-3

September 9, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Left guard Drew Dearman (72) looks to pick up the rusher getting by Ucambre Williams (76) as CJ Bennett (15) loads up to throw downfield.

South Alabama gets it’s first win of the season in a defensive struggle against Nicholls State. Three-and-outs and forced turnovers were the story of the game. The Jaguar defense held Nicholls State to a mere 118 yards while forcing three turnovers and only allowing three points to the Colonels.

“Putting pressure on the quarterback really helped us tonight,” head coach Joey Jones said. “I thought we played with a lot more energy on defense, it looked like the defense that I’m used to seeing.”

The first quarter saw several three-and-outs in the first quarter as Nicholls only managed 23 total yards and the Jags only 19 total yards. Each team faced four third downs and only the Jags converted one in the entire first quarter. On top of that, the first two Jaguar drives started at their 2- and 1-yard lines respectively.

Finally on Scott Garbers third punt, the Jags were able to flip field position. Facing 4th and 20 from their own 22 yard line Garber punted, with the aid of the wind, a 69 yard punt to the Colonel 9 yard line. The Jags forced them to punt and had great field position at the Colonel 46 yard line with 1:51 left in the quarter. The offense drives down to the 35 yard line, but on the final play of the quarter, Ross Metheny takes a three yard sack.

After switching sides of the field, the Jags faced a 3rd and 13 going into the wind. An incomplete pass forces the Jags to punt, but Garber cannot keep it out of the end zone.

The Colonels are able to drive, on the ensuing possession, to the Jaguar 20 yard line, but are backed up by a 10 yard loss on a fumbled snap by the quarterback on first down. After back to back incomplete passes, Nicholls State finally break 0-0 tie with a 48 yard field goal, aided by the wind, to take a 3-0 lead on the Jags.

But the Jags answer right back with a drive of their own. Starting at their own 25 yard line after a touchback on the kickoff. T.J. Glover rushes for no gain on first down, then Bennett completes back to back passes to Terrance Timmons and Glover for a first down. Then they rush the ball five consecutive times, three by Baker for 6, 15 and 8 yards respectively. Then Kendall Houston rushes for 6 then loses 3 back to the Nicholls State 30 yard line. Bennett then finds Wes Saxton for 11 yards to make it 3rd and 2 at the Colonels 19 yard line. Timmons rushes for no gain, but a personal foul gives the Jags half the distance to the goal and an automatic first down.

After a penalty and facing 3rd down, Bennett hits Jereme Jones at the goal line but is marked down at the one yard line. Facing third and goal, the hand-off to Kendall Houston loses a yard. After looking like the Jags were going to go for the touchdown, Coach Jones sends on the kicking team but calls a time out when the play clock starts to wind down. Michel Chapuseaux converts the 19 yard field goal to tie the game.

In the second quarter, the Jags defense held Nicholls to -13 yards rushing.

After punts by both teams to start the second half, the Jags put together another drive starting at their own 48 yard line until they reached the Colonel 17 yard line and stalled out. Chapuseaux’s kick into the wind misses wide left.

On the second play of the Colonel’s ensuing possession, Bryson James would pick off the Landry Klann pass at their 33 yard line. On first down, Bennett would find Houston open on the screen pass and with a big block by Drew Dearman, he would scamper for 14 yards to the Colonel 19. But a roughing the passer penalty would put them at the 9 yard line with 1st and goal. A four yard run by Houston would be followed up by two incomplete passes to Lavender and Besteda before settling for a 21 yard field goal with 5:17 left in the third quarter.

The Colonels would go three and out on their next possession and their punt would be fair caught at the Jaguar 22 yard line. Later on in the drive, on third and 6 at the Jaguar 38 Ross Metheny would be flushed out of the pocket and find daylight on the left side. As he was approaching the sideline, the Nicholls State defender was playing the angle to get him but would be completely leveled by T.J. Glover. The game would have to stop and trainers went to assist the injured player.

The player would eventually put on a backboard and have his neck immobilized before put on a stretcher and carted off the field. He was moving his arms and legs and even game the crowd a thumbs-up as he was loaded onto the cart. He was taken to a local hospital for observation as a precaution.

However, on the next play after the stoppage, Terrance Timmons would fumble the ball away to Nicholls State at the 50 yard line with three seconds left in the third quarter.

The Colonels would drive down to the Jaguar 17 yard line, but on 2nd down and 12 yards, Montavious Williams would recover a fumble at the Jaguar 19 yard line ending the scoring threat again.

The Jaguar offense, led by Ross Metheny again, would begin the drive with
three consecutive completions to Saxton for two yards, Hollinger for nine yards and T.J. Glover for 29 yards to put the Jags in Colonel territory at the 41 yard line. The Jags would eventually get down to the Colonel 17 yard line where they would have to settle for another field goal by Chapuseaux to put the Jags up 9-3 with 9:01 left in the game.

After a touchback on the kickoff, the first play by the Colonels would be intercepted by Terrel Brigham at the Colonel 38 yard line. After driving down to the Nicholls State 19 yard line, Baker and Bennett would fumble the handoff exchange and it would be recovered by the Colonels.

With a chance to run out the clock after a couple first downs, the Jags would go three and out starting at their own nine yard line. The Scott Garber punt from the Jaguar 16 would go 48 yards and only returned 6 to the Nicholls State 42 yard line with 2:38 left in the game.

Klann’s first down pass would fall incomplete, but the second would be caught for four yards before getting out of bounds. Then Klann would find tight end Nich Scelfo open for 9 yards and into Jaguar territory. Then a 16 yard pass completion and run down the right sideline would put them at the Jaguar 29 yard line. B.J. Scott would be flagged for pass interference on the subsequent play, putting the Colonels at the Jaguar 14 yard line needing a touchdown.

The first down play would go for a loss of one yard. Followed by an incompletion then a Pat Moore sack of Klann would back them up to the Jaguar 18 yard line facing 4th and 14. Nicholls would call a time out with 38 seconds remaining in the game to scheme a play. After allowing the defense to line up, they could call their final time out. Then the fourth down pass would be broken up by Darrius Morrow to save the game. After a knee, the Jags would watch the time run off the clock for the 9-3 win.

South Alabama led with 279 total yards, 169 passing and 110 rushing while Nicholls State ended the game with 118 total yards, 96 passing and a mere 22 rushing. The Jags held the time of possession lead with 34:52 to 25:08  while they also ran 75 plays to the Colonels 52 plays.

Demetre Baker lead all players with 75 yards rushing while Metheny had 14 , Bennett had 13 and Houston only 10.

T.J. Glover lead the receiver corps with 43 yards on three catches. Hollinger and Lavender both had three for 36 yards and 20 yards respectively. Jereme Jones caught two for 22 and Wes Saxton also caught two for 13. Also Corey Waldon returned from his knee surgery in preseason camp to catch his first pass of the season for seven yards.

Bennett would go 11-of-20 for 111 yards and no interceptions. Metheny would go 6-of-10 for 58 yards and would be sacked three times.

Chapuseaux would go 3-of-4, hitting field goals from 19, 21 and 34 yards but missing a 35 yarder.

“South Alabama is good up front, they rotated eight guys in there,” Nicholls Statate head coach Charlie Stubbs said. “We are kind of young up front in a couple of positions and we weren’t able to substitute as freely as they did. I feel like they kind of wore us down in that area. We weren’t able to really establish much of a running game, except what I could muster with LaQuinton Caston as a Wildcat quarterback, so that goes hand-in-hand. South Alabama made us one-dimensional, and we’re not good enough right now in the passing game to try and win just by dropping back and throwing the ball. Against a defense like that, we have to play really well, execute and stay out of long-yardage situations.”

“It was big for us to win this game. We lose that game and we’re reeling,” Coach Jones said. “I told the kids, ‘A win is a win.’ Ten years from now we’ll look back and remember we won the football game, but we also have to be honest with ourselves and what we have to work on. We were just a little out of sync on offense, and a lot of that had to do — and I’m not making excuses — with not having film on them. When you go into a game and you haven’t watched any film on them, you’re not able to watch their schemes. They changed some schemes up from two years ago. The first few times we had the ball, it was on the one or two- yard line, and we kind of got started on a bad note. I don’t think we adjusted very well, and that’s something we have to look at next week.”

The Jaguar defense played lights-out defense for the game. The Colonel defense schemed well to get enough pressure on the quarterback to cause problems and did well at times at containing the running game.

The Jaguar offense did well when they sped up the tempo can caught the defense in mismatches. But when they got something going, something would cause them to stall out. This will have to be worked on in the next week before the Jags travel to North Carolina State.

However, NC State lost to Tennessee to begin the season then squeaked out a win over FBS-transitional UConn on Saturday. We’ll have to wait and see what the Jags will do against the Wolfpack next saturday when they travel to Raleigh for their first road game of the season.

The Jags and Wolfpack will kickoff at 5pm CDT at Carter-Finley Stadium. The game will be streamed online by ESPN3.

Jags Fall At Home To UTSA 33-31

September 2, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Receiver Jereme Jones looks in the pass from CJ Bennett in the first half of the 33-31 loss to Texas-San Antonio.

South Alabama fell in their season-opening game versus Texas-San Antonio 33-31 on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Four turnovers and ill timed penalties did the team in. Each turnover resulted in a UTSA score.

UTSA kicker Sean Ianno, who’s game winning field goal attempt was blocked last year in the Alamo Dome, made the 51 yard attempt with 16 seconds left in the game to avenge a 30-27 double-overtime loss to South Alabama last season. It was UTSA’s first-ever road victory in the program’s second season of competition. This was the second consecutive loss at home for the Jags and second loss all-time at home.

The opening drive went as planned, they drove 75 yards in eight plays and scored a touchdown. An 11 yard rush by Demetre Baker capped off the drive as the Jags took the early 7-0 lead.

On their next possession, the Jaguars were driving again and reached deep into UTSA territory before quarterback C.J. Bennett tossed an interception in the end zone to end the drive. UTSA took that turnover and drove 80 yards to answer and tie the game at 7-7.

The ensuing kickoff was returned by T.J. Glover from near the goal line out past the 50 yard line before he fumbled. The ball was recovered by UTSA and scored a second touchdown to take the lead 14-7.

In the second quarter, UTSA kicked field goals of 47 and 32 to increase their lead to 20-7 before South Alabama fought back last in the quarter. The Jags drove down and scored on a play-action pass to running back Desmond Jones with 20 seconds left in the half to cut the lead to 20-14.

Michel Chapuseaux added a 43 yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the UTSA lead to 20-17. Later, Kendall Houston waltzed in from one yard out to give the Jags a 24-20 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

The roadrunners scored on a 34 yard forth-down play to retake the lead at 27-24. After the kickoff, Bennett took the snap and was preparing to make a throw, but Demetre Baker cut in front of him and brushed the ball out of Bennett’s hands. The fumble was recovered by UTSA at the Jaguar 21 yard line. The defense held them to a field goal, but were trailing 30-24.

The Jags fought back though. Bennett found a wide open Jereme Jones open down the left side for a 34 yard touchdown pass to put the Jags back on top 31-30 with 2:46 to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Chapuseaux’s kick was fielded just short of the end zone and returned out to the 31 yard line, but Tyrome Bivins was flagged for a personal foul, the 15 yard penalty put UTSA at their 46 yard line. The Jags would get five of those yards back on a false start penalty.

After an incomplete pass, UTSA’s Okotcha rushed for five yards before being forced out of bounds by Jake Johnson. Their 3rd and 10 play was a pass completion from quarterback Soza to Armstrong for 15 yards to the Jags 39 yard line. Okotcha then had back to back runs for no gain and four yards. Soza completed a pass for one yard to get to the Jaguar 34 yard line before the roadrunners used their final time out to bring on the kicking unit. Sean Ianno nailed the 51 yard kick to take the lead 33-31 with 16 seconds left.

T.J. Glover returned the kickoff to the Jaguar 29 yard line. Terrance Timmons gained seven yards on the next play, but could not get out of bounds quick enough as time expired.

UTSA out-gained the Jags 398 to 308, out-rushed the Jags 126 to 183 and out passed the Jags 182-215. Jags held the edge in first downs 18 to 16 though.

Jaguar quarterbacks combined to go 15-of-26 with one interception and two touchdowns. UTSA led the way in penalties with 11 for 114 yards while the Jags only had seven for 80 yards, with the personal foul on the kickoff return being the most costly of the game.

Jags returned two punts for 37 yards, averaging 18.5 yards per return, and returned two kickoffs for 95 yards, which averaged 47.5 yards per return. UTSA returned two punts for -7 yards and three kickoffs for 58 yards.

UTSA held the edge in time of possession 33:07 to 26:53. The Jags fumbled three times and lost all three.

Demetre Baker led the Jags on the ground with 63 yards rushing on 12 carries with Kendall Houston rushing 11 times for 43 yards, Terrance Timmons ran four times for 20 yards, Bennett rushed nine times for 12.

Bennett went 15-of-24 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with one sack. Ross Metheny went 0-for-2.

Jereme Jones led the receivers with 51 yards on three receptions, including the long 34 yard catch late in the fourth quarter. Corey Besteda also had three recptions for 40 yards. Greg Hollinger added 42 yards on two receptions, Glover had 25 yards on two catches, Lavender had 12 yards on two catches, Kendall Houston added 10 yards on two catch as well.

T.J. Glover led the game with 145 all-purpose yards with 25 receiving, 95 in kickoff returns, 37 in punt returns but -12 on one reverse.

Jake Johsnon and Enrique Williams both led the Jags with eight total stops. Alonzo Long added seven stops and Darrius Morrow and Tyrell Pearson both added five. Pearson picked off one Soza pass and returned it 28 yards.

After the game, Jaguar head coach Joey Jones spoke about the game.  “First of all I want to congratulate UTSA. I thought they played a great game, and my hat’s off to them,” he began. “They played well, and we knew they would. They played us into double overtime last year, and we knew they had a good football team. They have a lot of good players. They didn’t do anything any different. We obviously turned the ball over too many times. I think it came down to turnovers and key penalties at the wrong time.”

Speaking about the final Jaguar touchdown to regain the lead with 2:46 left in the game. “We had to find the right time to run the play,” stated Jones. “We got in the formation and they ran what we expected them to.  Everyone did their job and we executed. We saw a mismatch with Jeremé.  We had been waiting to call that play, and we found the right spot.”
“The offense showed a little fight. We teach ball security, and today we got away from that. Turning the ball over is something you can’t do in a close game, and they [the turnovers] really came back to bite us in the end. The good thing is all these mistakes are correctable.”

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