Southern wide receiver Mike Jones has been limited by an ankle injury most of this season, but he picked a good time to get healthy.
Jones, a sprinter on the track team who was one of the Jaguars’ top deep threats a year ago, had just 14 catches going into the Bayou Classic on Saturday. But he did have a high yards-per-catch average (20.6) and two touchdowns among his limited catches.
In Southern’s 52-45 victory against Grambling in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Jones managed 130 yards and two touchdowns even though he had just three catches.
“I’ve been 100 percent for the last two or three weeks,” Jones said. “I’m just happy that I was able to play my best at the most important time.”
The Tigers likely weren’t as concerned about Jones as they were Willie Quinn, Justin Morgan and Reggie Travis, who had been the biggest playmakers in the passing game while Jones was limited.
Jones has one more chance to have an impact as the Jaguars advanced to next week’s Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game against Alcorn State in Houston.
One time too many
Grambling took a page out of Alabama A&M’s book when it used a pop-up kickoff after its first touchdown.
Brian McCain, who was an upback, leaped to try to catch the ball before it hit the ground, but Jordan Stargell hit him and knocked the ball loose, and the Tigers recovered at the 19, leading to a field goal that cut the Jaguars’ lead to 14-10.
Alabama A&M utilized multiple pop-up kicks to keep the ball away from Southern’s explosive return tandem of Quinn and Danny Johnson. The Bulldogs held the Jaguars to an average of 8.2 yards on five pop-ups.
But Grambling may have used the strategy once too often. After cutting the Jaguars’ lead to 45-38 midway through the third fourth quarter, they hit another pop-up kick. Jaleel Richardson caught it and ran 79 yards for a touchdown that proved to be the decisive points.
She said yes
The Southern band is known wide and far for its halftime performances.
But the Jaguars added a unique twist for this Bayou Classic.
Calvin Mills, a New Orleans native and former Southern and Tampa Bay Buccaneer, enlisted the help of the Human Jukebox to propose to his girlfriend, Brittany Ramsey.
During the band’s performance, a huge gift box (8 feet by 8 feet) was carted to midfield under the guise of being the presentation of an outstanding Southern alumnus award to Mills.
As the band formed the words, “Marry Me” and played “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” Ramsey’s 12-year-old daughter, Ajaya, popped out of the box to present the ring.
Mills proposed over the public-address system and Ramsey accepted.
By all accounts there was renewed enthusiasm for this Bayou Classic as Southern and Grambling met head-to-head for an outright SWAC West Division title for the first time in 11 years.
Nonetheless, the attendance was announced at 57,852, though there appeared to be fewer people than that in the satnds.
Boulden back in lineup
Jamal Boulden started at left guard for Southern after missing the game against Mississippi Valley State two weeks ago because of an ankle injury.