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Southern players wait to take the field before kickoff of their game against Troy on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Ala. Troy defeated the Jaguars 55-3.

TROY, Ala. — The game got away quickly from Southern in its 55-3 season opening loss to Troy, and the trouble started before even before kickoff.

The Jaguars were without three starters and one of their key offensive players, then lost two more to targeting ejections.

Wide receiver Marquis McClain, tight end Ethan Howard and defensive end Jalen Ivy stayed home because of an “internal matter,” first-year coach Jason Rollins said. Additionally, top running back Jerodd Sims is out with a foot injury, as was wide receiver Corey Williams.

“Hopefully everything works out well for them to be back next week,” Rollins said of McClain, Howard and Ivy. “There’s a lot of reasons but no excuses. It’s an internal matter we’re working through.”

Howard was the team’s leading receiver in the spring season with 14 catches for 240 yards and two TDs. His presence allows Southern to vary its offensive look. McClain was the team’s second-leading receiver, and Ivy a preseason All-Southwestern Athletic Conference pick.

Howard was replaced by Gregory Perkins. Travis O’Connor subbed in for McClain, and Tyran Nash filled in for Ivy.

Sims is Southern’s best power runner and short-yardage back, and was the leading rusher among running backs last year with 231 yards and a 5.4-per-carry average.

Targeting times two

Safety Chase Foster and defensive end Lyston Barber were both ejected for targeting. Foster’s call came in the second quarter on a play that took a fumble recovery away from Southern and led to the Trojans’ final first-half score.

Jabre Barber caught a pass over the middle and Foster hit him at the 2-yard line, knocking the ball loose and into the end zone. Robert Rehm recovered for Southern, but Foster was flagged, and the video review confirmed the call. Foster will miss the first half of Southern’s game at home against Miles College.

Barber was flagged when he hit Powell on an incompletion in the third quarter. He will miss all of next week’s game because his foul occurred in the second half.

“I thought both of them were very questionable,” Rollins said. “(On Foster’s hit), the official said he threw it because he wasn’t sure and he was advised if it’s close, throw the flag. He threw it. It is what it is. It’s about lowering your strike zone. He put his shoulder on the ball, but I guess it’s all interpretation.”

Silver lining

One strong area for the Jaguars was special teams. Martell Fontenot averaged 34 yards on five punts with none being returned. His first effort was 49 yards. Freshman Joshua Griffin handled kickoffs and put both of his in the end zone for touchbacks.

Numerology

It was the fourth consecutive season opener on the road for Southern. The last time the Jaguars opened the season at home was 2017, 14-8 victory against South Carolina State. ... Southern is 2-3 in its last five season openers. ... The game was the first meeting between the schools in football.

Captains

Jaguar captains were offensive tackle Ja’Tyre Carter and defensive tackle Davin Cotton. Southern won the toss and elected to defer the option to the second half.