Back Jaguars Get First Sun Belt Win

Jaguars Get First Sun Belt Win

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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South Alabama beats Georgia State 13-10 on a late kick.

MOBILE, Ala. – Gavin Patterson connected on a 30-yard field goal with two seconds remaining Saturday, helping the University of South Alabama football team complete a fourth-quarter comeback and secure a 13-10 Sun Belt Conference victory over Georgia State at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The effort — which marked the third time this fall the Jaguars (4-4, 1-4 Sun Belt) have won when trailing entering the final period — allowed USA to extend its streak to eight consecutive Homecoming wins while ending another of seven straight losses in league play dating back to last season.

"The first thing that I want to talk about is the character of this team.  They stood up again," said South head coach Joey Jones.  "There's times where things aren't going well for you in the first half and you can fold.  Offensively, I thought our staff made some really good adjustments; we came out and ran the ball a lot better in the second half and moved the ball much better.  Defensively, we played well the whole night.  We gave up a couple of plays here and there, but I thought as the game went, our defense started tightening down things. 

"It was a great win for us.  I knew it was going to be a defensive struggle.  I didn't think it would be 13-10, but I thought it might be a 21-17-type game.  My hat's off to our players.  We just stuck together.  A lot of teams would have folded, but our team didn't.  That's who they are and the type of character they have."

The Jags only had to drive 18 yards in the final minute, having taken over at the GSU-31 with 44 seconds on the clock following an 18-yard punt by the Panthers (2-6, 1-3 SBC).  Dami Ayoola rushed for 12 yards after an incomplete pass, and Xavier Johnson added carries of four and seven yards to set up Patterson, who split the uprights with his second field goal of the contest.

The sophomore was 2-of-3 on the night after coming into play with a miss on his only try in October.

USA tied the score 10-10 with just over six minutes to go in regulation with a 14-play, 92-yard march that ended when Tyreis Thomas crossed the goal line from two yards out.  Dallas Davis hit Gerald Everett for a pickup of 15 yards to begin the possession — which would take nearly five minutes off the clock — with the Jaguars then gaining 51 yards while running on each of the next seven plays; that included back-to-back carries of 11 and 18 yards from Johnson.  A pair of incomplete passes left South facing fourth-and-10 from the GSU-25, but Davis found Everett for a 14-yard completion to keep the drive alive.

Johnson then rushed for three yards and Davis added six before Thomas scored for the first time since he did so in the Jags' 42-24 victory over then No. 19 San Diego State on Oct. 1, their last victory before tonight.

"The Georgia State defender was kind of squatting on me.  I just tried to get inside of him and break the route off at a certain spot to get open," explained Everett.  "Coach [Bryant] Vincent called a great play and we just executed like we had been preparing to all week.  I knew when I caught the ball that I had cut my route a little short and that he was trailing me, so I just tried to slip up the outside."

USA collected 133 yards of total offense in the final quarter while holding the Panthers to minus-seven yards, finishing the game with a 306-240 advantage in the category.  It was the fewest yards the Jaguar defense has allowed to an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision opponent this fall.

Neiko Robinson led the unit with a career-best 12 stops, which included nine solo.  Bull Barge and Darrell Songy were credited with six stops apiece — the latter had one for a loss of nine yards — with Randy Allen, Roman Buchanan, Devon Earl, Jeremy Reaves and Tyree Turner all finishing with five tackles.  Allen had a team-high 1½ stops behind the line of scrimmage as the Jags matched a season best with four sacks.

"Our coaches really just talked about playing hard and having fun," Earl said.  "We came out and really played for each other and had fun with each other and let all of the rest take care of itself.  As long as you bring your effort and you have a great attitude — that's what we stress.  Control what you can control, and the rest will take care of itself."

Alonzo McGee countered with 12 tackles to pace GSU and match Robinson for game-high honors.  Trey Payne collected 11 stops and Bobby Baker had 10, while Michael Shaw finished with eight including an assist behind the line of scrimmage.

The contest was tied 3-3 at the half, and Jaguars had an opportunity to double that advantage midway through the third quarter.  A low snap on a 39-yard field-goal attempt, however, resulted in a seven-yard loss allowing the Panthers to take over on the 29-yard line.  Aaron Winchester began GSU's drive that followed with a 13-yard run, and he also completed passes for 22 yards to Glenn Smith and 20 more to Robert Davis, with the second setting up Demarcus Kirk's two-yard touchdown run that gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the period.

The Panthers opened the scoring with a 30-yard Rogier ten Lohuis field goal on its first possession.  Winchester found Smith for a 25-yard gain on GSU's second play from scrimmage, and he followed with runs for 10 and 20 yards to move the Panthers from their own 26-yard line to the USA-19.  South's defense forced a pair of three-and-outs, and after punts of less than 30 yards started both ensuing series at the GSU-39.  On the second drive, Davis rushed for 18 yards to move the Jags into the red zone, and on the first play of the second quarter Patterson connected on a 34-yard field goal to tie the score, 3-3.

Davis was 15-of-25 passing for 124 yards, and he added a career-best 31 yards rushing, while Winchester paced the Panthers with 64 yards on 21 carries and threw for 113 yards while completing 11-of-18 attempts.  Johnson recorded 83 yards on 18 attempts, Thomas supplied 46 yards and Ayoola had 30 as the Jags ran for 182 yards as a team, with Everett catching a game-high four passes for 49 yards.  Smith led all players with 55 yards on three receptions, while Kirk posted 30 yards rushing and Kendrick Dorn had 20.

"We felt like we had to be able to run the ball to be able to beat Georgia State," said Jones.  "They are really good against the pass; they have really good corners and safeties.  We didn't want to have any interceptions that might change the game, because we knew that it was going to be a back-and-forth defensive struggle.  In the first half, we thought we were going to be able to run the ball better inside than we were able to.  We realized that we had to get it out on the perimeter.  Once we were able to get it out there, our guys blocked great on the outside.  Our tight ends and receivers made some great blocks and that was huge for us."

The Jaguars return to action with a 4 p.m. (CDT) kickoff at Louisiana-Monroe next Saturday.

For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with and f,ollow the Jaguars at Seaso.n tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).