Photos: Southern powers their way to 45-34 win over Alabama State _lowres

Photo provided by AMANDA MOORE -- Southern tight end Montrell Jones drags Alabama State cornerbacks Bradley Street (6) and Kurron Ramsey (29) for extra yards during Saturday's game at New ASU Stadium in Montgomery, Ala.

Teams trying to defend Southern’s offense suddenly have a couple more problems.

They’ve known all along about Lenard Tillery’s running and Austin Howard’s targets in shifty Willie Quinn, big target Randall Menard and speedy Mike Jones.

Now, in the past two games, tight ends Montrell Jones and Dillon Beard have emerged as playmakers.

“When you have a lot of weapons like I have,” Howard said Tuesday, “(opponents) forget about Montrell Jones and Dillon Beard. So once they do that, that’s when you’ve got to remind them, so I just try and feed them the ball.”

In a 45-34 victory at Alabama State two weeks ago and a 47-42 loss to Prairie View on Saturday, Jones caught a combined seven passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns, and Beard caught seven passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

In the first four games of the season, Jones had six catches for 76 yards and Beard had one catch for 8 yards. Neither scored a touchdown.

“Like coach (Dawson) Odums always says, it’s ‘pick your poison,’ ” Montrell Jones said. “We’ve got weapons all over the field; we’ve just got to use them.

“To be honest, and I think I speak for the whole team: We just want to win. I couldn’t care less about catching the ball as long as we win.”

Size isn’t everything

Menard leads the Southwestern Athletic Conference in receiving yards in conference play (94.8 per game), and Quinn is third in catches (5.2 per game).

The Jaguars’ opponent this week, Texas Southern, also has one of the leading receivers in the SWAC. Derrick Griffin is fifth in receiving yards (85.8) and tied for ninth in receptions (3.8).

Howard was asked if he’d like to have a target as tall as Griffin, who’s 6-foot-7.

“I’m good with all my receivers I’ve got right now,” Howard said with a smile. “I’ll take my 5-5 Willie Quinn over anybody any day.”

Keeping them honest

Howard is generally known as Southern’s passing quarterback, and backup Deonte Shorts is known more as a runner.

But Howard hasn’t been strictly a pocket passer. In addition to being second in the SWAC in passing yards per game (319.2), he’s second on total offense (337.2) and has run for four touchdowns — including three in the last two games.

“I just want to keep the defense honest,” Howard said. “I don’t want them to just keep dropping eight on me every time I drop back. I try to be sneaky on my feet. I’m not fast, but I play with my head. If I see something, a weakness or a hole in the middle of the defense, I’m going to attack it.”

Two-point option

Southern has been looking for holes in opponents’ extra-point defense, as well.

The Jaguars send the majority of their blockers out wide while holder Mike Jones lines up in shotgun formation behind long snapper David-Michael Carrell. If Jones sees an opportunity, he can call for a two-point play and has a run-pass option.

“It forces teams to have to prepare for something,” Odums said. “If they give you the numbers, you’re going to get the easy two-point conversion.”

Southern has had mixed results, going 2-for-5 — 1-for-3 on runs and 1-for-2 on passes.

On the road again

There’s no shortage of bus trips for the Jaguars game at Texas Southern on Saturday.

The Southern University Quarterback Club, The Southern Blue and Gold Fan Club, The Southern University 6th Man Club and the Strong United Unification Organization are all offering trips.

The Quarterback Club is offering an overnight trip as well as a turnaround trip Saturday. For information, contact Jonathan Dearbone at (225) 572-5878 or jdearbone@yahoo.com; or Reginald Jarvis at (225) 939-5906 or rjarvis79@yahoo.com).

The Blue and Gold is offering a turnaround trip. For information, contact Craig Pierre at (225) 324-7234 or Robert Square at (225) 931-4052.

For information on the 6th Man Club trips, contact Gail Ray at (225) 356-5252; Anna Jones at (225) 387-1982, (225) 907-7212 or amjones9@cox.net; Freddie Green Sr. at (225) 388-9403 or (225) 421-6637; or Elijah Wilkinson Jr. at (225) 355-9249.

For information on the SUUO trip, call (225) 355-6886, (225) 357-3833 or (225) 774-7617.

Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.