At first, it looked like Southern’s defense was picking up where it left off in last week’s 55-3 loss at Troy.
Miles College was gouging out yardage, converting third down and putting points on the board to take a 17-13.
But the Jaguar defense buckled down and finally put the brakes on the Division II Bears in a 41-24 Southern victory Saturday.
“We came out with a mindset to play,” defensive tackle Davin Cotton said of Southern’s play after halftime. “That’s what it was. It was our execution, lack of discipline and focus. The message was lock in. We know what we have to do and what we practice every day. We had to come out and do it.
“They (Miles) fought hard. We just had to fight a little bit harder.”
Missed tackles allowed Miles ballcarriers to pick up extra yardage. Some of it was the ability of 225-pound blockbuster running backs Donte Edwards and Kingston Davis, who combined for 130 yards rushing. Both looked capable of playing for many Division I schools.
Edwards’ 22-yard run up the middle gave the Bears their last lead with 1:24 left in the third quarter.
Southern was playing without defensive star Jordan Lewis, who appeared to suffer a shoulder injury in the second quarter and did not return. Southern coach Jason Rollins said it didn’t affect the Jaguars’ scheme but did have a ripple effect on depth.
“We went a little farther down in our roster,” Rollins said. “When the reps get higher, things tend to break down a little more.
“They had a great 230-pound running back. You have to wrap him up. They’re a great football team, give them credit. They ran hard and played hard. It was fundamentals, execution. It wasn’t busts, just poor tackling that’s something we’re going to focus on this week.”
Rollins said Ladarius Skelton is still the starter even though Bubba McDaniel played extremely well. McDaniel rushed for 56 yards and two touchdowns and completed 10 of 13 passes for 140 yards and another score.
Skelton injured his lower leg in the third quarter of last week’s loss to Troy. He had started Southern’s previous 25 games going back to the 2018 season.
“Every day we evaluate who will be the starter and who will be the next man up,” Rollins said.
Southern had unlimited attendance at A.W. Mumford Stadium for the first time since the 2019 season. The Jaguars had only one home game last year and it was limited by pandemic protocols.
Saturday’s turnout on a balmy, sunny day impressed Rollins, making his first appearance before them.
“It was really nice, the fans were great,” he said. “They carried us. They brought a lot of energy, great game day atmosphere.”
Miles College may be a Division II school, but it brought a SWAC-sized band to Saturday’s contest. Known as the Purple Marching Machine, the Miles band has nearly 200 members, and was accompanied by its Golden Stars dance line and Streaming Flags color guard. In addition to performing at Saturday’s game, the PMM has also made appearances at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Atlanta Falcons home games.
Three starters who missed last week’s game because of an “internal matter” returned to the lineup. WR Marquis McClain, TE Ethan Howard and DE Jalen Ivy. Of the three only Howard started. Tyran Nash started in place of Ivy as he did last week. Travis O’Connor started in place of McClain for the second straight week. Ivy replaced Jordan Lewis when he was injured and played the rest of the game.
RB Jerodd Sims (foot) missed his second consecutive game as did WR Corey Williams (hand). WR Brandon Hinton also sat out the game.
Freshman kicker Luke Jackson made his first PAT. Freshman LB Derrick Williams notched his first sack. Freshman running back Kobe Dillon got his first carry and finished the game with 57 yards on six carries on the game’s final possession. Sophomore center Elijah Jordan saw his first action when starter Dallas Black injured his hand in the fourth quarter and Jordan finished with game.
Southern won its eighth home opener in the last nine tries. The only loss in that span was last year’s 33-30 defeat by Arkansas-Pine Bluff. . . Southern’s first PAT attempt of the season by Martell Fontenot was blocked by Miles’ Jaylun Thomas.
Southern captains were senior OG Jonathan Bishop and junior DE Tyran Nash. Miles College won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff.
When Southern needed someone to step in and perform in a pinch, quarterback Bubba McDaniel answered the call.
After falling behind at halftime against Division II opponent Miles College, Southern relied on its running game as it rallied for a 41-24 win…
Southern eventually turned on the gas and beat Miles College 41-24 to open its home slate Saturday. Here are three things to know after the victory.