Southern (9-3 overall and 8-1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) heads back to Houston to defend its SWAC championship against Alcorn State (9-3, 7-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday at NRG Stadium. The East Division champion Braves are coming off an open date that followed a 34-31 home loss to Jackson State in the regular-season finale Nov. 22. Alcorn beat Southern 56-16 on Sept. 27 in Lorman, Miss.
Southern led wire-to-wire and made a goal-line stop on the final play of the game to defeat Grambling 52-45 and claim the West title Saturday in the Bayou Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Jaguars accumulated 484 yards and even though they allowed 511 yards, many of them came as they were protecting a lead that three times reached 21 points. Jaleel Richardson contributed a 79-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the Jaguars’ sixth special teams touchdown of the season.
Austin Howard threw touchdown passes of 13, 45 and 55 yards as Southern built a 31-10 second-quarter lead. He finished the game 14-of-23 for 258 yards and he threw one interception. His ability to hit passes down the field early helped open running for the running game, which had 226 yards.
“I told my D-line, ‘it’s on us. If we want to win this game, and we want to go back to the championship, we’ve got to stop them from getting this foot.’ So we all got down and stopped them from getting that foot.”
– Southern defensive end Arthur Miley on goal-line stop that secured Southern’s Bayou Classic win.
Keep an eye on
WR Mike Jones showed he is fully recovered from an ankle injury that plagued him for much of the season. He caught just three passes, but they covered a total of 130 yards, and he found the end zone on passes of 45 and 55 yards from Howard.
Southern beat Grambling at its own game in the pass rush. The Tigers came into the game with 45 sacks, the most in the SWAC. The Tigers did not get a single sack against the Jaguars, and Southern got to Grambling quarterback Johnathan Williams for six sacks... Jaguars coach Dawson Odums said discipline and focus would be a key to the game. One gauge of that is penalties, and Southern was penalized twice for 10 yards and Grambling was penalized 12 times for 85 yards.