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Southern's band marches up the ramp into the stands before the Jaguars' game Saturday against Jackson State at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi.


The Jaguars are resilient. Southern takes pride in its run defense, and Jackson State ripped it to shreds in the first half. But the second half was a different story. The Jaguars defense held JSU to 10 points and kept them out of the end zone until the last minute to secure the victory. They corralled freshman quarterback Jalon Jones with a fierce pass rush that led to flour sacks and numerous scrambles. They blanketed his receivers and forced him to run. He looked like a different quarterback in the second half.


Southern special teams started this season with two fumbled punts, a blocked punt and numerous other gaffes. Against Jackson State, the Jaguars special teams provided 12 points on a long field goal, a safety on a punt snap out of the end zone and game-breaking 87-yard kickoff return by Brandon Hinton, who overcame a lost fumble on a previous kickoff. Special teams also put the final nail in JSU's coffin when Devon Benn recovered an onside kick with less than a minute to play.


As usual, the SWAC West Division comes down to the Bayou Classic in two weeks. Southern can sew up its second consecutive title and still has an outside shot at hosting the championship game. But this Southern team is playing its best football of the season. The Jaguars made mistakes but made up for every one of them. The only lingering doubt might be quarterback Ladarius Skelton’s health after he left the game with an apparent leg injury. But Southern has a week off before meeting Grambling.