Southern at Alabama State: Why you better stay until the end _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern’s Lenard Tillery runs the ball against Alabama State in last season’s 28-21 victory.

Next level: If it’s Southern and Alabama State, you better watch to the end

If recent history is any gauge, the Southern-Alabama State game won’t be decided until the final moments.

In each of the past five meetings the final margin was seven or fewer points and four of the outcomes were settled in the final 20 seconds.

“Somehow it always comes down to the wire,” Jaguars wide receiver Randall Menard said.

Last season’s 28-21 Southern victory was the most lopsided meeting in the past five years, relatively speaking. The Hornets tied the score at 21-21 with 13:51 left in the game and the Jaguars scored the decisive touchdown with 9:20 left, then got three defensive stops before running out the clock.

Two years ago, ASU tied the score at 28-28 with 1:29 left, but Southern won 31-28 on Greg Pittman’s 43-yard field goal with 18 seconds left.

In 2012, the Hornets held on for a 31-30 victory when a Jaguars’ two-point conversion failed with 20 seconds left.

In 2011, Southern won 26-23 when it scored a touchdown with nine seconds left.

In 2010, ASU held on for a 21-19 victory when a two-point conversion failed with 16 seconds left.

Apparently, the Hornets’ best shot at winning is to have the outcome rest with a Jaguars two-point conversion try.

“I think it’s two teams that mirror each other,” Jaguars coach Dawson Odums said. “They have some talent, and they understand how to get the talent the ball. That’s why I think it goes down to the wire.”

The 2009 meeting was the last one decided by more than one score as Southern won 34-24.

Four Downs

1. Time well spent

Since Dawson Odums became head coach, the Jaguars are 5-0 in games after an open date. The last Southern loss after an open date was a 6-0 setback to Mississippi Valley State, which led to head coach Stump Mitchell being reassigned and Odums being elevated from defensive coordinator in 2012.

2. Home not sweet

ASU hasn’t had much of a homefield advantage this season. The Hornets are back home after winning consecutive road games against Mississippi Valley State and Texas Southern. They opened the season with a loss to Tennessee State in Nashville before losing consecutive home games against Alcorn State and Grambling.

3. Seeing red

ASU and Southern are very close statistically in overall defense. Southern is second in scoring defense (22.0) and ASU is third (25.8). ASU is second in total defense (393.8) and Southern is third (399.5). But it’s different in red-zone defense where Southern is second (66.7 percent) and ASU is last (100 percent).

4. Contrasting styles

The starting quarterbacks have contrasting styles. SU’s Austin Howard has passed for an average of 272.5 yards per game in SWAC play, and he’s the third-most efficient passer in the conference (176.9). On the other hand, ASU’s Ellis Richardson averages almost as many rushing yards (75.8) per game as passing yards (88.5).