PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas — Facing a fourth down in the final seconds Saturday, Prairie View quarterback Jerry Lovelocke scrambled all over the field looking for a receiver.
Instead, the senior was greeted by four Southern pass rushers, who took down the preseason all-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection to seal a 34-24 win for the Jaguars at Blackshear Stadium.
The SU sideline erupted. The sack was an exclamation point on a bounceback performance by the Jaguars defense after they gave up record-setting numbers in a shocking 51-27 home loss to Northwestern State one week earlier.
On Saturday, two big interceptions, three sacks and three fourth-down stops helped make the difference in the Jaguars’ first conference game of the season.
The victory was an even bigger statement for a defense that lost several starters to both injury and academic issues in the past seven days.
“Our whole thing is about overcoming adversity, and I feel like we overcame a lot of stuff tonight,” SU redshirt freshman defensive back Blake Monroe said.
“Throughout the week, it was all about preparation and film study. The coaches gave us our keys and they gave us an excellent game plan, and we went out and got a win.”
Last week, Monroe joined redshirt freshman Justin Bethancourt and true freshmen Danny Johnson and Bryan Anderson in the starting secondary after regular starters Kevin King, D’Andre Woodland and Dionte McDuffy were pulled because they were not academically certified.
Southern also lost starting linebacker Javon Allen to a hand injury last week.
After getting picked on last week in record fashion by Northwestern State, SU responded against Prairie View. And the young guys made plays.
“There is no such thing as a freshman — it’s only on paper,” SU coach Dawson Odums said.
“They’ve been playing football long enough. I told them to go out there with some confidence, have some fun and this team needs you to be at your best. And tonight, they were at the best.”
Anderson had a big interception in the first quarter, returning it 30 yards to set up an Southern field goal.
Junior transfer Rhaheim Ledbetter added another interception just before halftime to stop the Panthers deep in SU territory.
After leading 34-10 through three quarters, the Jaguars defense — particularly its run defense — got tired in the fourth quarter, giving up big touchdown runs to Johnta Hebert and Arthur Lockett.
The Jaguars gave up 475 yards, but nearly half of them came in the fourth quarter once the game was out of hand.
“I think our defense was great,” running back Lenard Tillery said. “When the offense has problems, defense has your back. It was a great feeling to see them out there dominating.”
On the field for 87 plays, the Jaguars showed some fatigue in the fourth quarter.
“They didn’t have anything left in the gas tank, but I told them it’s going to be empty if you are giving it your all,” Odums said. “Just to see that will power was great.”
Demetrius Carter led the Jaguars with 15 tackles, including a half sack. Roshaud Turner had 12 tackles and Arthur Miley had 10.
Carter, Monroe and Johnson also were credited with a pass breakup.
“I think our effort was there and people stepped up and made some plays,” Turner said. “I feel we pulled together as a team, and this was a big win for us.”