JACKSON, Miss. — One of Southern’s touchdowns had never happened before.
The Jaguars' next score was just as rare — and vastly more exciting.
Senior cornerback Danny Johnson is becoming Southern’s special offensive weapon. He's used sparingly in strategic situations, sometimes as a decoy, sometimes not. But this time, Johnson was no decoy.
He had never done this before.
Johnson, the Jaguars’ top cornerback, hurled himself into the end zone for a 5-yard rushing touchdown — yes, rushing — in the second quarter of Southern’s 35-17 win against Jackson State.
“It feels great just getting on offense," Johnson said. "I haven’t done that in a while. Just getting that ball in my hands, just getting in the end zone, it’s a great feeling, man.”
“Amazing run," said Southern running back Herb Edwards. "He got outside, got north and south, got behind his pads. Can’t be mad. Great run.”
After scoring his first career receiving touchdown in Southern’s most recent game, on a 37-yard pass from senior quarterback Austin Howard in the Jaguars’ 35-14 win against Alabama A&M on Oct. 7, Johnson’s 5-yard plunge was his first career rushing touchdown.
In consecutive games, Johnson scored his first offensive touchdowns since his senior year at East Feliciana High School.
“Well, I mean, we’ve got an exciting football team,” Odums said. “We have guys that can make plays … Danny just gives us an added advantage, because he’s an athlete that can make plays with the ball. We’re trying to put guys in position to make plays, and he’s one of those guys.”
Johnson was used as a jet-sweeping decoy in the first quarter, but the Jaguars chose not to give Johnson the ball then.
As an every-down defender and Southern’s most threatening kick returner, Johnson’s five touchdowns this season were generated, normally, because of Johnson — one of the SWAC's most skilled all-around athletes. Not because of a play call.
Johnson has five touchdowns this season: Two on interception returns, one on a punt return, his touchdown catch two weeks ago and Saturday’s 5-yard scramble.
Then came the Jaguars' other rare TD.
In the possession after Johnson’s score, Southern capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive — one of its longest this season — with a 4-yard touchdown run on a fake field goal by freshman receiver Kendall Catalon.
“I didn’t expect that," Johnson said of his touchdown run and the fake. "I knew we had it in, but I didn’t expect us to do both.”
Catalon, Southern’s holder on field goals, caught the snap aligned in routine field goal formation, then stood and curled around the right side of the offensive line, scampering across the goal line with few Jackson State defenders nearby.
“Great play call!” shouted Southern offensive coordinator Chennis Berry in Southern’s press box booth.
Southern sandwiched less exciting scores between Johnson and Catalon's runs, but they were worth just as many points: an 11-yard rush by Howard in the first quarter and Edwards' 1-yard run in the third.
Catalon's score was his first career rushing attempt and touchdown.
Jackson State scored late in the third quarter, closing Southern's lead to 28-17 with a 29-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Williams to receiver Miquel James.
How did the Jaguars respond? With more trickery.
Jackson State knocked the subsequent kickoff to the Jaguars, who had one returner pitch the ball to reserve wideout Cameron Mackey, who ran for a substantial gain and gave Southern possession at its own 49-yard line.
With that good field position, Howard drove the Jaguars offense 44 yards in five plays, completing their fifth scoring drive by whipping a 5-yard pass to freshman receiver Jamar Washington.
“It feels great having a list of weapons," Edwards said.