LORMAN, Miss. — Southern has struggled with its passing game all season so coach Dawson Odums tried to throw a wrinkle into the mix. It backfired in the Jaguars 27-13 loss to Alcorn State on Saturday.
Southern took the opening kickoff and marched to the Braves’ 15-yard line. On second-and-9, Ladarius Skelton pitched out to running back Devon Benn, who tried to throw a touchdown pass to T.J. Bedford in the end zone. Bedford was covered and Benn was off the mark, putting the ball right into the hands of Alcorn defensive back Qwynnterrio Cole.
Drive over; zero points.
Odums said the team worked on the play in practice and he felt the opportunity was right. He said he didn’t regret giving it a try.
“The play was there, it was a matter of us executing it,” Odums said. “We’ll look at it. You trust what you call in practice, believe in it. You get to a certain area of the field and you call your plays.
“That first drive, we were close. We were moving the ball playing with a lot of energy. In games like this you’ve got to get points on that drive. To turn it over takes the life out of you. Against teams like this offensively you’ve got to match them because they can score points.”
The first quarter was a flag fest for both teams. Southern was whistled six times for 62 yards while gaining 74 yards on offense. Alcorn wasn’t much better with five penalties for 30 yards.
Southern was without backup running back Chris Chaney, who was in a walking boot before the game, and defensive end Jordan Lewis played sparingly because of microsurgery on his right pinkie finger. Lewis wore a special padded brace to protect his finger. Alcorn was without leading rusher Niko Duffey, who entered the game with 445 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
Southern made a mistake on special teams when the Jaguars were unable to get a PAT kicked after McDaniel’s a second quarter touchdown. Holder Brandon Hinton was unable to spot a high snap and Martell Fontenot did not attempt to kick it. Hinton was tackled as he tried to rise up and throw a pass.
Alcorn trailed at halftime for only the third time this season, the other two in losses to Southern Miss and McNeese State. Southern held the Braves to five plays for zero yards in the second quarter, thanks in part to a 20-pay, 84-yard touchdown drive. Southern also had a 13-play drive in the first quarter that allowed the Jaguars to hold a 17:53-12:07 edge in time of possession in the first half.
Alcorn State retired the jersey number (9) of the late Steve McNair, who played for the Braves from 1991-94. McNair still holds the FCS record for career total offense (16,823) and won the Walter Payton Award as the top FCS player. He finished third in Heisman Trophy balloting behind Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam, Penn State’s KiJana Carter. McNair went on to a career in the NFL from 1995-05, making three Pro Bowls and leading the Tennessee Titans to the 1999 Super Bowl.
It was Southern’s fourth consecutive loss to Alcorn, which leads the series 39-27-2. The last Jaguars victory was a 41-33 decision in Baton Rouge, Oct. 29, 2016. Southern is 1-9 vs. Alcorn under Odums, who is 46-9 against the rest of the SWAC. Alcorn won its fifth consecutive game and eighth straight at home.
Southern’s game captains were: tight end Jeremias Houston, center Jaylon Brinson, defensive tackle Dakavion Champion and linebacker Calvin Lunkins. Southern won the toss and elected to take the ball to start the game.