Southern (4-3, 4-1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) plays Alcorn State (4-2, 3-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday in A.W. Mumford Stadium. Alcorn had an open date last weekend, which came one week after a 35-34 overtime loss to Grambling in Lorman, Miss. The Braves won both meetings last season — 56-16 in Lorman and 38-24 in the SWAC championship game in Houston.
Southern outscored Texas Southern 19-0 in the second half to pull away for a 40-21 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The Jaguars rushed for 305 yards, allowed just 92 total yards, including minus-2 rushing, and the special teams contributed Willie Quinn’s 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Greg Pittman’s 28-yard field goal and a safety when Mike Jones blocked a punt on which the ball went out of the Tigers end zone. Though Southern struggled in the first half, all in all it was a team-wide positive response to a 47-42 loss to Prairie View a week earlier.
RB Lenard Tillery rushed for career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns to help the Jaguars control the game and wear down TSU. Tillery accumulated the statistics, but he was just the lead character in a star-studded ensemble cast. LT Reginald Redding, LG Jamal Boulden, C Terrell Lee, RG Anthony Mosley and RTs Skyler Prohl and Eric Janeau dominated the line of scrimmage. TEs Montrell Jones and Dillon Beard also contributed. To be more precise, the star was the running game.
“We just knew we had to step it up. We just amped it up and got at each other in the locker room.”
— LB Daniel Brown on the dramatic improvement from the first half to the second half.
Keep an eye on
The pass rush. It has shown flashes of being very good, but Saturday was a breakout performance. The Jaguars had a season-high eight sacks, and six different players were involved. Brown led the way with 3.5 sacks, Aaron Tiller had two, Kentavious Preston one and Simeon Houston, Christopher Jones, and Darez Joseph each had a half a sack. Southern rotated groups of fresh linemen and linebackers and it paid off, especially in the second half when six of the sacks occurred. “They probably need to check the stats because they probably called some (sacks) runs,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “We should have had a double-digit sack day.”
Austin Howard has been one of the most productive passers in the SWAC all season, and the Jaguars hardly needed him to lift a finger in order to win going away. Howard completed 7-of-12 passes for a mere 46 yards and ran twice for 10 yards. Deonte Shorts got added playing time because Southern emphasized the running game on a sloppy field. Shorts ran five times for 32 yards and a touchdown and completed 4-of-5 passes for 26 yards. Third-string QB Jarrad Hayes got in at the end and ran twice for a yard. Four of 11 completions went to Tillery for just four yards. The rest of the catches were split among three wide receivers. Nico Talbert had four catches for 43 yards, Willie Quinn two for 18 and Mason Ceasar one for seven. The fact that the Jaguars needed so little from the most productive area of the team — the passing game — was a sign of their dominance on both lines of scrimmage.