Southern (3-2, 3-0 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) celebrates homecoming when it plays Prairie View at 4 p.m. Saturday at A.W. Mumford Stadium. The Panthers are 3-2 and 3-1 after a 45-6 home victory against Mississippi Valley State last Saturday. The Jaguars won last year’s meeting 34-24 in Prairie View, Texas, as Lenard Tillery rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown and Willie Quinn returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
Southern took a 17-0 halftime lead and never trailed during a 45-34 SWAC victory against Alabama State on Saturday in Montgomery, Ala.. Austin Howard threw four touchdown passes and ran for two touchdowns to lead an offense that did most of its damage through the air. The defense was stifling in the first half, allowing just 85 yards, but porous in the second half, allowing five touchdowns. Greg Pittman chipped in a field goal, Quinn had a 58-yard kickoff return that led to a touchdown and Herb Edwards caused and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return, which led to a touchdown.
Howard completed a career-high 33 passes in 45 attempts for 355 yards. He threw two touchdowns to Dillon Beard and one to Montrell Jones. A fourth touchdown came when Howard teamed on a 13-yard completion with Jones, who fumbled at the goal line, and Randall Menard recovered in the end zone. Howard connected with nine receivers, including Quinn, who had a career-high 12 catches for 141 yards, one fewer than his career-high.
“We got complacent, got content thinking we had won the game, but they came out scoring and we said we had to pick it up, so we did that.”
— Howard, on Southern holding off an Alabama State comeback
Keep an eye on
The defense. Which is a better indicator of where the defense is right now? The swarming unit that stifled Alabama into the third quarter or the sloppy group that yielded 324 yards in the second half? The players admitted to losing focus after getting a big lead in the second half and some of the damage was done with younger backups in the game, but with Prairie View’s high-scoring offense coming to town, the defense needs to be primed to play 60 minutes.
The run game was its least productive in three SWAC games. Tillery entered the game as the SWAC’s leading rusher, but he had just 55 yards on 17 carries, and the Jaguars totaled 59 yards on 30 carries. The numbers were down in part because Howard and the passing game were so effective, but Southern needs to be more balanced moving forward.