There was a moment during Southern’s 58-7 win over Virginia-Lynchburg when Jaguars coach Dawson Odums might have been having flashbacks to last week.
Southern gave up 356 yards passing to Alabama A&M, a number that caused concern even though the Jaguars pulled out a 35-31 win. Late in the first quarter, Virginia-Lynchburg put together a three-play, 81-yard touchdown drive — all through the air — to pull within 21-7 of Southern.
Dragons quarterback Sherman Brown began the drive with a 53-yard completion, and finished it with a 25-yard touchdown pass. The momentary air raid turned out to be an anomaly.
Southern’s defense righted itself, and finished the game having allowed just 163 yards passing. And, even though the opponent wasn’t the same caliber as Alabama A&M, it was important for the Jaguars to show they could play well.
Turning in a dominant performance was just what the Southern defense needed.
“It’s been a concern,” Odums said of the Jaguars' pass defense. “We knew they were just going to throw it deep. The good thing is we made some adjustments, and some guys made some plays.”
One player who was happy to see the defense play well was Jaguars quarterback Ladarius Skelton, who said improved play began earlier in the week.
“It was great seeing the defense hold up, but they’ve been doing it all week in practice,” Skelton said. “We gave them confidence this week in practice so they would come out and execute in the game.”
The Jaguars executed their pass rush well against the Dragons.
Joe Davis sacked Brown for a 15-yard loss to stop a first-quarter Virginia-Lynchburg drive. Jordan Lewis was credited with another on the next Dragons possession after Sherman was penalized for intentional grounding. Also making big plays for Elijah Small, Tamaurice Smith and Malik Ellis with tackles for loss.
In the second half, Kordel Caldwell had an interception, and Dylan Walker picked up a sack.
“Being able to flush the quarterback out was good,” Odums said. “We kept him off the launch pad. That’s our objective, to move him off the launch pad. Our cover guys, once they settled down they realized it was just a matter of doing what they were coached to do.”
Virginia-Lynchburg came into the game averaging 44.3 yards per game rushing, and was held to minus-14 yards by the Jaguars. For the game, the Dragons went 0 for 11 on third down and were forced into seven three-and-out possessions. There were eight punts by Virginia-Lynchburg.
The end result was a game that showed Southern was capable of playing up to its own expectations.
“I think it was important,” Odums said. “You gain confidence because you executed, and you did what you’re supposed to do against a team that you’re supposed to do it to. That’s what we haven’t done (in previous games). We haven’t put our foot on the gas, and the (other team) has been able to hang around and make a game out of it.
“We finally put a team to sleep and just finished the football game. Once we got to halftime it was just a matter of taking the opening drive, scoring and then getting a lot of guys in there.”