NORMAL, Ala. — Southern’s 21-point comeback to beat Alabama A&M 35-34 in a nearly four-hour game Saturday was a fitting sequel to last year’s meeting.
This time, Southern scored the winning points with 51 seconds left.
Last season, in a game that featured a 90-minute weather delay, the Bulldogs took a 17-14 lead with 49 seconds left and celebrated at A.W. Mumford Stadium as the officials called grounding on Southern and assessed a game-ending 10-second runoff.
But they changed their ruling when they realized the Jaguars had a timeout to call to prevent the runoff and Southern tied the score as time expired and won in double overtime.
“A year ago we played the same kind of game,” Jaguars coach Dawson Odums said Saturday. “I’m tired. It seems like every time we plays these guys it’s exhausting.”
Southern won at A&M for the first time since a 33-24 win in 2004.
Another DB returns
For the second consecutive week, Southern’s defensive backfield was bolstered by academic certification.
Senior cornerback Kevin King was cleared in time for the game against Alabama A&M a week after cornerback D’Andre Woodland and safety Dionte McDuffy were cleared in time to play in a 51-36 victory against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
All three players participated in the first two games of the season but were pulled from the lineup moments before kickoff against Northwestern State on Sept. 13 because of uncertainty about their academic eligibility.
Woodland and Danny Johnson started at cornerback and King and Justin Bethancourt were the primary backups, though King played more on special teams than defense. McDuffy. Brian Anderson started at safety and Blake Monroe and LeMar Martin were the primary backups. Rhaheim Ledbetter remained the starting nickelback.
Pop-ups slow down Jaguars
Johnson’s kickoff return continued trends in which Southern entered the game leading the Southwestern Athletic Conference in kickoff returns (27.9 average) and A&M was last in kickoff coverage (29.3).
After the first return, the Bulldogs switched to a pop-up kickoff, kicking the ball extremely high and dropping it between the 10- and 20-yard lines to disrupt the Jaguars’ timing.
It worked as Johnson mishandled the first pop-up and fell on the ball at the 14. After the initial return, the Jaguars averaged just 8.2 yards on five kickoff returns.
OL Zach Brown was diagnosed with a neck stinger after leaving the field on a stretcher and being taken to a hospital by ambulance. He was released and returned home on the team bus.
WR Mike Jones returned after a three-game absence due to an ankle injury and caught one pass for 10 yards.
Quarterback Deonte Shorts (groin) did not travel with the team and missed his fourth consecutive game, but tweeted during the game that he would return Oct. 25 against Jackson State after Southern’s open date.