This summer, if someone told you that when Southern faced Texas Southern on Nov. 5, the Jaguars would be coming off a win over Alcorn, and TSU — the reigning Southwestern Athletic Conference champion — would be coming off a loss at Mississippi Valley State … what would you have said in return?
Something like, “Yeah, right”?
Something like, “Stop with the foolishness”?
Well, we’ve reached the point, and it’s true. What’s more, Southern (3-5, 3-3) has a better record than the Tigers (3-5, 1-5). The two teams will meet Saturday, just one week after the Jaguars slammed Alcorn State 30-14 on homecoming night and senior night at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
What a strange year it’s been.
A few of the good moments, bad moments and oddities from the Jaguars’ win over the Braves:
- The receivers. SU wideouts Mike Berry and LaQuinton Evans broke loose for two easy early touchdowns, proving that when they’re focused, they make up one of the best receiving tandems in the SWAC. They combined for 152 yards and two touchdowns Saturday against Alcorn.
- J.P. Douglas. The freshman quarterback was far from perfect — after his hot start, Douglas threw seven incomplete passes in the second quarter — but he was on the money early on, when Southern buried Alcorn with a 20-0 lead. Douglas completed 11 of 23 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Douglas also ran for another score on a busted play. Full disclosure: Dray Joseph didn’t do a bad job in relief. His stat line wasn’t special (6 of 14, 55 yards, one interception), but Joseph made only one big mistake; he was late on a deep throw down the sideline, and Alcorn picked him off. Joseph also faced a heavier pass rush than did Douglas.
- The defense. Anytime you hold a team to 219 yards and no points — Alcorn scored both touchdowns on special teams — well, you’re doing well. Especially considering that linebackers Jamie Payton and Anthony Balancier and cornerback LaMarkius Pettaway were suspended.
- The second-half sleepwalk. As well as the offense played in the first quarter, it didn’t do a whole lot the rest of the evening. In fact, if Sylvester Nzekwe hadn’t broken off a 58-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Southern would’ve gone scoreless after halftime.
- Special teams. Yikes. Give credit to Manuel Canto for nailing a field goal and 3 of 4 extra points. But coverage issues allowed Alcorn’s Terrance Lewis to score on an 85-yard kickoff return, and protection issues led to a blocked punt, which Robert Gainwell returned for the Braves’ other score.
- Penalties, penalties, penalties. They didn’t affect the outcome of this game, but if Southern commits 14 penalties against Texas Southern … it’s going to kill any chance at a road win.
As many chances as Southern has blown … as many mistakes as the Jaguars have made … as many issues as the team still has … the Jaguars are a half-game out of first place in the Western Division.