The timing really could not have been much better for Austin Howard: After a huge performance Saturday in Little Rock, the senior quarterback is poised to break two school records in his final home game.
Howard’s fifth touchdown pass against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a 6-yard strike to tight end Dillon Beard, tied Dray Joseph’s career record of 73 passing touchdowns.
He finished the game with 245 yards through the air, giving him 8,401 in his career and leaving him 75 yards shy of breaking Joseph’s career passing yards record as well.
As long as Howard stays healthy, it is likely both records will fall Saturday against Prairie View A&M, on Southern’s senior day and in Howard’s final game at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
Explosive offense shows up
By the time the first half was over Saturday, Southern had nearly matched its season high in points scored.
The Jaguars eventually eclipsed the previous high watermark of 35 points early in the fourth quarter.
Southern also set a season best in total offense, finishing with 487 yards. Before Saturday, Southern had only gained more than 400 yards once this season (438 against Alcorn State).
Behind the high-scoring output was a balanced attack that delivered a flurry of explosive plays.
The Jaguars ran 79 offensive plays and featured a near-even split between called passes (38) and runs (41).
Southern was able to maintain balance because both aspects of the offense were hitting on big plays. Southern tallied 15 chunk plays — runs of 10 or more yards or passes of 15 or more yards.
Included in that number was Southern’s longest play from scrimmage of the year, a 63-yard touchdown pass to Jamar Washington (one of seven chunk passes), and Southern’s second-longest run of the year, a 46-yard touchdown by Devon Benn (one of eight chunk runs).
While we’re on the topic of season highs, the Southern defense had one wth five sacks of Arkansas-Pine Bluff quarterbacks LeEarl Patterson and Brandon Duncan.
It was a team effort, with six players accounting for the five sacks (Aaron Tiller and Jahmal Tillman were each credited with half a sack).
Southern entered the game with 13 sacks. Its previous single-game best was three against both Fort Valley State and Jackson State.
Flipping the script
Southern entered the game leading the Southwestern Athletic Conference in third-down defense, while Pine Bluff came in with one of the league’s worst offenses on third down.
When looking for reasons Pine Bluff found a way to be competitive against Southern, here is one that should stand out: the Golden Lions converted seven of their first 10 third-down attempts.
Southern found its form late in the game, keeping Pine Bluff shy of the first-down marker on each of its last five third downs.