All throughout the week — at Southern football practice, or even away from the field — Southern senior tight end Dillon Beard found his senior quarterback to relay a message.

“He’s coming to me (saying), ‘Hey baby boy, I got you,’” said quarterback Austin Howard. “That’s what he calls me.”

Beard effectively called his shot.

A week after hauling in four passes for 52 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Beard made an even bigger impact against Prairie View, catching five passes for 90 yards and two more scores.

“Me and him are starting to click more,” Howard said. “That’s four touchdowns in two weeks for him. He’s doing great, man. Just getting it done.”

Beard was a first-team selection on the preseason All-Southwestern Athletic Conference team after catching 38 passes for 488 yards and six touchdowns in 2016.

But he’d struggled to make his presence known in the first seven games this season, averaging 2.7 catches and 32.9 yards per game with zero touchdowns.

The reason for the sudden uptick was obvious to coach Dawson Odums.

“I believe the clock is ticking,” Odums said. “These seniors realize that football is running out for them.”

When the calendar flipped to November, Odums made a point to let his seniors know their football career was rapidly reaching its conclusion. He believes that resonated with them.

“All of a sudden you’re in college and you’re a senior and you realize that man, I may only have three football games left,” Odums said. “You wake up and don’t know what to do with yourself, because this has been a part of your life for so long.

“So why let the journey end? That’s why you’re starting to see these guys play so hard and play well down the stretch.”

With Beard hitting his stride at this crucial juncture, Southern has turned in its two best offensive performances of the year, averaging 42 points and 529 yards per game.

Beard scored the first touchdown Saturday, leaking behind the defense on a play-action pass and rumbling for a 31-yard touchdown. It was his second 30-plus-yard reception of the drive.

His 4-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter provided the winning margin. Beard caught the ball near the goal line on third-and-goal and, when the referee didn't signal touchdown, muscled his way out of a tackle attempt and crossed the goal line.

“That’s a big man, that’s a big ol’ man to try and tackle,” running back Herb Edwards said. “… You’re not going to get him down easy, because if you think he can’t move, he’s going to shake you out your shoes real quick. It’s great having him play how he’s playing. That’s what we’ve been missing. It’s great to finally have him on track.”

Attendance figures

Southern wrapped up its 2017 home schedule with a 37-31 win in front of 13,085 fans, according to the post-game box score.

Southern drew 14,315 fans per game in 2017.

The Jaguars’ best attended game this season was their opener against South Carolina State (15,939).

Bus trip

Fans wishing to attend Southern’s road game against Texas Southern on Saturday have a couple options.

The Southern University Quarterback Club is offering two separate trips, both departing at 7 a.m. from the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

Tickets cost $125 for a trip that returns immediately after the game, and start at $225 for a trip with an overnight stay in Houston. Contact Reginald Jarvis at 225-939-5906 for more information.


Southern remained undefeated (8-0) at A.W. Mumford Stadium since the installation of the artificial playing surface before the 2016 season … The 175 receiving yards by Kendall Catalon were the most by a Southern receiver since Willie Quinn recorded 178 receiving yards in September 2016 against Alcorn State … Southern’s 572 yards of offense were its most since it gained 631 against Alabama A&M in November 2015.

Follow Luke Johnson on Twitter, @ByLukeJohnson.