Lost in the madness of Southern's heartbreaking 22-21 loss at Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday night, as well as the wild fight that followed the final play, was the relative success second-year SU coach Stump Mitchell had in using both of his top two quarterbacks, freshman J.P. Douglas and sophomore Dray Joseph.
Douglas made his first college start and played well early on, leading the team to a 9-0 lead in the first half, during which he had no interceptions and one touchdown pass, a 44-yard rainbow to wideout Jared Green in the second quarter.
But Douglas began to falter in the third quarter, throwing interceptions on back-to-back drives that allowed the Golden Lions to take a 14-9 lead and grab a firm hold on the game's momentum.
Douglas completed 11 of 20 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown and the two interceptions.
He gave way to Joseph with 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter, with the Jaguars still behind, 14-9.
"It worked well in the first half. It worked well in the second half," Mitchell said, referring to his use of both QBs. "Dray came in; and last year, he actually played better as a backup than (as a starter)."
Joseph had indeed come off the bench in the second half in Southern's two victories last season.
On Saturday, he led SU to a 15-14 lead when he hit Lee Doss on a skinny post for a 10-yard score with 7:25 remaining.
UAPB responded with a long, bruising drive that resulted in a touchdown and two-point conversion, giving the Lions a 22-15 lead with 1:30 left. But Joseph, who completed 9 of 11 passes for 139 yards and no interceptions, led Southern on an inspired drive of its own. With 2 seconds remaining, he tossed an 11-yard throwback screen to Sylvester Nzekwe, who scored with no time left.
The Lions, of course, blocked the extra point that would've sent the game into overtime.
Mitchell had used both quarterbacks in five of the team's previous six games, with mixed results.
On Saturday, he added: "All in all, we still had the same problem. We were not able to manage the game."
Mitchell lamented the many mistakes Southern made on special teams, including two failed extra-point attempts and one missed field-goal attempt.
"We lost the ballgame," Mitchell said. "We were bad special-teams-wise."
Numbers to know
Minus-5. Southern has a minus-5 turnover ratio after seven games. The Jaguars had four giveaways and one takeaway at UAPB - including a fumble on the first play from scrimmage and a fumble on the second play of the third quarter.
21. UAPB had a 21-play drive that overlapped the first and second quarters. The drive covered only 40 yards, and the Lions came away with no points after missing a field-goal attempt - but UAPB offensive coordinator Eric Dooley said he believed the drive paid dividends later, because SU's defense was tired in the second half.
37. Southern's defense was on the field for 37 more snaps than the offense Saturday. For the season, the defense has played 113 more plays than the offense.
"We wanted to go to Sylvester because he started the first half with a fumble. He started the second half with a fumble. I was hoping he was ready to make something happen, and he did. Unfortunately, we missed the PAT."
"We came out in the first half, and it appeared we were a little tight. ... They were trying to do more than we were asking them to do. But we got it together, so I give credit to them. It was a bunch of seniors that pulled it together."
Southern (2-5, 2-3 Southwestern Athletic Conference) is idle this week.
The Jaguars host Alcorn State on Oct. 29 for homecoming at A.W. Mumford Stadium. The Braves (1-4, 1-4) have struggled in their first year under Melvin Spears
Alcorn was idle Saturday for the second consecutive week. The Braves practiced Sunday after learning that strength and conditioning coach Thomas "Zeus" Hall, a former Southern player who held a similar position at SU until last year, died early Sunday in a car accident just north of Southern's campus on U.S. 61. <