HOUSTON — Southern’s football team played Texas Southern in rickety Delmar Stadium on Saturday for the second time in three years.
In all likelihood, the Jaguars will never play there again.
Saturday’s game marked TSU’s final home game in Delmar, a 12,500-seat high school facility owned and supervised by the Houston Independent School District. Next fall, Texas Southern will move into an $85 million downtown stadium, which it will share with the MLS’ Houston Dynamo.
“This is bittersweet,” TSU Athletic Director Charles McClelland said. “This is a high school stadium, but it has served us well. We have a winning record here, and of course, we won a SWAC championship playing here. ... But we’re extremely excited to be moving into our new home.”
In doing so, Texas Southern leaves behind a high school facility that’s showing his age.
Built in 1957, Delmar Stadium is the oldest off-campus high school stadium in the city of Houston, according to records kept by Robert McSpadden, who runs a website that catalogs high school football facilities across Texas. Located in northwest Houston, it serves as home to five high school teams.
Saturday afternoon, lack of locker-room space led Southern trainers to set up shop outside the field house. The Tigers used Delmar as their primary home field for three seasons.
McClelland said TSU settled on Delmar Stadium by “process of elimination,” saying it was the “biggest stadium that was available.”
McClelland said that in the new stadium, TSU will keep 100 percent of ticket and memorabilia sales, as well as 15 percent of gross concessions sales.
Run game slows
Southern’s running game, which had come to life in recent games against Prairie View, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alcorn State, slowed down Saturday as the Jaguars largely abandoned the run after falling behind by 15 points early on.
SU had only 12 yards on 14 attempts. Sylvester Nzekwe, the team’s leading rusher, had a 30-yard run on the team’s first drive, but finished with only 33 yards on six carries. He was coming off a 134-yard effort against Alcorn, a career high.
Nzekwe had combined for 293 yards in the Jaguars’ three games against PV, UAPB and Alcorn.
For the first time this season, sophomore quarterback J.P. Douglas started and played the entire game, completing 16 of 35 passes for 207 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. It was the third start for Douglas, who began the season in a relief role, playing a quarter or more in each game in relief of Dray Joseph. Joseph, who started the team’s first six games and played wire-to-wire in a Sept. 17 loss to Jackson State, did not play Saturday.
Elsewhere on offense, receiver Lee Doss started in place of the suspended LaQuinton Evans, and left guard Aaron Hall started, replacing freshman Zach Brown, who started last week’s game against Alcorn but re-aggravated a left ankle injury.
On defense, cornerback Cameron Booker made his second straight start in place of the suspended LaMarkius Pettaway. Kevin King and D’Mekus Cook also played in nickel and dime packages.
Sophomore linebacker Larry Johnson also made his second straight start, and freshman linebacker Daniel Brown, suspended for last week’s game, returned to make his second career start (Brown started the team’s season opener at Tennessee State).
Linebackers Franchot West and Corry Roy also entered the game, playing more often as TSU elected to throw the ball.
No word (yet) on Ramsey
McClelland said he’s made no decision on the longterm status of interim coach Kevin Ramsey, who was promoted from defensive coordinator this spring after TSU fired Johnnie Cole.
“I’ve said all along that when the season is over, we’ll take a look at all that he’s done,” McClelland said. “Obviously, he took over under some difficult circumstances. ... Our record is tough right now, but if we can win out, we’ll have a winning (overall) record. And there’s one thing I’ve learned from being in the SWAC: Don’t rush to judgment.”
TSU came into this weekend leading the entire Football Championship Subdivision in total defense, but hadn’t won a conference game since Sept. 24, when it defeated Alcorn 14-7.
To Smalls, who threw for a career-high 365 yards and ran for 71 more.