Left to pick through the wreckage of a 29-14 loss at Texas Southern on Saturday night, Southern football coach Stump Mitchell noticed a trait that’s been common in the Jaguars’ games this season.
“We had some great opportunities,” Mitchell said. “We just did not take advantage of enough of our opportunities.”
• Issues in the red zone.
Twice in the first half, Southern’s offense failed to score after driving inside the TSU 20-yard line.
No possession was more frustrating than when the Jaguars, down 15-0 early in the second quarter, made it to the TSU 3. On second-and-goal, they lined up in the shotgun formation, and center Lee Almanza’s snap sailed over the head of quarterback J.P. Douglas.
Douglas tried to pick up the ball while on the run (he had done so the previous week against Alcorn State, turning a busted play into a 37-yard touchdown scramble).
This time, Douglas fumbled. TSU defensive tackle Jonathan Hollins, a former Redemptorist High standout, fell on the ball at the 29.
“It was more frustrating because we had the opportunity to score,” Mitchell said. “Had we been able to score a touchdown there, we would’ve had the opportunity to be tied at halftime, or maybe down by one or two points.”
Instead, the Jaguars trailed 15-7 at halftime.
Southern has scored on only 12 of 23 red-zone possessions this season.
In the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s game, Southern committed five penalties, including two false starts and two delays of game.
Later, during Texas Southern’s game-changing 99-yard drive in the third quarter, a late-hit penalty on defensive tackle Brandon Turner gave TSU a first down at the Southern 13. On the next play, Joe Anderson scored the Tigers’ final touchdown, giving them a 29-15 lead.
Mitchell said of all the team’s penalties — SU had 10 for 78 yards — the late hit was the most disappointing.
Down by seven in the third quarter, Southern elected to take a few downfield shots — the same types of shots that served them well in a one-point loss at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and in a 30-14 win over Alcorn State the previous week.
Douglas unleashed three long bombs down the sideline to receivers Lee Doss and Jared Green.
Though the passes were too long, Green said he was partially at fault on at least one play.
“I take some of the blame myself for not running down some balls and starting to make some plays,” he said. “I think we all just have to do a better job of making plays.”
Joseph stays on sideline
Mitchell said Sunday he would have played sophomore quarterback Dray Joseph at some point in the second half, but that the shape and flow of the game didn’t allow it.
“We had the ball for (about) 7 minutes the entire second half,” he said, “so it just didn’t happen.”
The Jaguars had possession for only 7 minutes, 22 seconds after halftime. Of their five second-half series, none lasted more than six plays. Their final two drives were three-and-outs.
Joseph was the No. 1 quarterback for Southern’s first five games, then began playing a relief role over the next three games, essentially flip-flopping roles with J.P. Douglas.
Douglas, a freshman, played wire-to-wire for the first time Saturday, completing 16 of 35 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Douglas was 6-for-15 in the second half.
Two DBs leave game
Virgil Williams, the team’s No. 1 cornerback, suffered a concussion in the second half of Saturday’s game, Mitchell said.
Also, safety Mychal Bell — who was filling in for the suspended Levi Jackson — suffered an unspecified hand injury. That left Southern with only one regular starter, strong safety Demetric Rogers, in the secondary by game’s end. Jackson and No. 2 cornerback LaMarkius Pettaway were suspended; and Williams was injured.
Numbers to know
549. Texas Southern’s 549 yards of offense were a season high against Southern’s defense. The previous high was 512 by Tennessee State in the season opener, a 33-7 SU loss.
71. TSU quarterback Riko Smalls ran for 71 yards, the most by a quarterback against Southern since Oct. 1, when Mississippi Valley State’s Marvin Pittman ran for 73 yards. Sixty-seven of Pittman’s rushing yards came on one play.
0. SU scored no points in the fourth quarter Saturday. It was the seventh time in nine games this season the Jaguars failed to score in the final period.
Southern (3-6, 3-4 Southwestern Athletic Conference) plays against Alabama State (7-2, 7-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.
The Hornets were atop every major black college football poll until they lost to Alabama A&M 20-19 in the Magic City Classic on Oct. 29.
Alabama State defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 28-12 on the road Saturday.
ASU and Southern split the 2003 and ’04 SWAC title games, with SU winning in 2003.