In Saturday's 64-6 blowout win, Southern's Willie Quinn outscored Alabama State 24-6 all on his own — and he didn’t even get credit for the points on the 30-yard touchdown pass he threw.
The rest of his Southern teammates fared pretty well, too. The Jaguars (1-2, 1-0) dismantled Alabama State (0-3, 0-2), a team many pegged as a contender in the SWAC’s Eastern Division, during a blowout at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
“It was great to see the focus,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “I thought from start to finish, they were locked into this football game.”
It was a total team win for the Jaguars, who forced six turnovers, racked up 541 yards of offense and scored in all three phases. After a pair of season-opening losses to FBS squads UL-Monroe and Tulane, it was their first win since November.
“We were thirsty for a win. We wanted it. We practiced like we wanted to win,” junior defensive end Aaron Tiller said. “It was like we missed winning. We didn’t like feeling like we did those first two weeks.”
The Southern defense, coming off a game in which it gave up 66 points, set the tone when it recovered a fumble on Alabama State’s opening series.
But it was a night that belonged to Quinn. Five plays after the fumble recovery, Quinn surged for the first of the five touchdowns he had a hand in.
“That’s my job: to put the ball in the box every time I get it,” Quinn said. “I’m aiming for the home run.”
Austin Howard dropped back and had as much time as he could’ve ever needed to survey the field. He saw what he was looking for: Quinn in single coverage with no safety help over the top.
“It was exactly what I was looking for,” Howard said. “I give credit to my O-line for giving me all that time, and I give credit to (offensive coordinator Chennis Berry) for calling a magnificent play at the right time. Willie just did his thing.”
Howard lobbed a rainbow and Quinn ran under it, hauling it in for an easy-looking 72-yard touchdown catch.
His next catch came on a third-and-short inside the red zone. An Alabama State defensive lineman peeled back when he saw Howard setting up for a short pass, looking to make a big hit on Quinn.
Quinn caught the ball and dodged the big lineman like a bullfighter before zooming 19 yards for another touchdown, making it 14-0.
That would be his last catch until the second half, but Quinn showed he can deliver passes as well as he receives them.
“Throwing it looks good on my résumé,” Quinn said.
Early in the second half, on an end-around, Quinn rolled to his left and put his entire 5-foot-5 frame into a 30-yard heave to teammate Randall Menard. Menard hauled it in to make it 21-0.
John West’s 9-yard touchdown broke up the Quinn touchdown fest midway through the second quarter, but after a Southern defensive stop less than a minute later, Alabama State thought it would be a good idea to punt the ball to Quinn.
Quinn caught the ball at his team's 27-yard line, picked his direction and took off. Seventy-three yards later, he was in the end zone one more time, giving Southern a 34-0 halftime lead.
“I made the first guy miss and outran everybody,” Quinn said.
That was Quinn’s 10th career return touchdown, tying the FCS record. He added a 78-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass in the third quarter for good measure.
Quinn finished with 178 yards and three touchdowns receiving, 30 yards and one touchdown passing, 18 yards on one carry and 94 yards and a touchdown on returns. Quinn touched the ball nine times and accounted for 320 yards and five touchdowns.
“I done ran out of words to use for Willie,” said senior running back Lenard Tillery, who ran for 122 yards. “The kid is just special. Wherever you put him, as he showed tonight, he’s going to make big plays. The only thing on his mind is scoring the football.”
Despite his best efforts, the night did not solely belong to Quinn. The Southern defense harassed Alabama State all night, making eight stops behind the line of scrimmage and forcing six turnovers — one of which was returned for a 55-yard score by Danshawn Jenkins.
“Since I’ve been here, I feel like that’s the best performance, defensively, we’ve put on,” said Tiller, who forced one of those turnovers with a strip sack.
The Hornets ruined the Jaguars’ bid for their first shutout since 2008 by scoring a touchdown with 41 seconds remaining in the game.
The Jaguars will look to even their season record on the road next Saturday at Alabama A&M.