HOUSTON — After two fragmented performances to start the season, Southern pulled it all together Saturday and regained its quarterback to boot.
Ladarius Skelton threw three touchdown passes and Jerodd Sims scored three times in a 51-23 rout of Texas Southern at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Benched in the last game for a thoughtless penalty, Skelton rushed for 75 yards on 12 carries and had his best game passing with nine completions in 14 attempts for 158 yards. Skelton guided the Jaguars offense to touchdowns on their first two second-half possessions, putting Southern (2-1) in control and extending the Tigers’ winless streak to 16 games.
Skelton threw touchdown passes of 38 and 22 yards to freshman tight end Ethan Howard and a 6-yarder to Brandon Hinton. There were a few bumps, including an interception and an injury that took him out for one snap. But even that worked out when backup John Lampley entered for one play and threw a 22-yard TD pass to Sims in the second quarter. Sims rushed for 36 yards on six carries.
Southern came out strong in the second half, using its powerful running game exclusively on a 73-yard, nine-play scoring drive, capped by Sims’ 14-yard run around left end.
Back-to-back tackles for loss by Christopher Thomas and Colyn Givens stopped the next TSU possession. That set up a 71-yard march that Skelton finished with his second TD pass to Howard.
Southern led 23-14 at halftime, jumping to a 9-0 lead and answering both TSU touchdowns, the last with immediacy on Shykee Thomas' 98-yard kickoff return with 2:13 left. Thomas burst through a hole in the right side of the coverage and cut to the right sideline to score 15 seconds after TSU shocked the Jaguars with a 54-yard touchdown pass.
Southern scored on its first possession as Skelton capped a 70-yard drive with a 38-yard scoring pass to Howard, who broke two tackles for his first career TD. Moments later, it was 9-0 when a shotgun snap sailed over TSU quarterback Jalen Brown’s head in the end zone. When he retrieved the ball, Southern’s Jordan Lewis was there to push him out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
The Tigers got their offense cranked up after stopping Southern on the ensuing possession, driving 87 yards in 16 plays.
Brown kept the drive alive with a 17-yard pass to Jyrin Johnson on fourth-and-2, one of two fourth-down conversions, and Howard scored from the 2 to cap the drive with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
Southern responded with a quick five-play, 73-yard march, highlighted by a 31-yard completion to Marquis McClain. Skelton left the game with an injury on the next play, but that's when Lampley stepped in for one play to throw his 22-yard scoring pass to Sims.
The teams exchanged punts and turnovers before Brown stunned the Jaguars when he found Ke’Lenn Davis wide open behind the secondary for his first scoring pass of the season.