South Alabama Overcomes Turnovers, Beats Southern Miss 27-20

The South Alabama Jaguars sure made it hard on themselves Saturday afternoon in Hattiesburg.  They committed three turnovers and while severely cutting down on the penalties, (nothing after the whistle), the ones they were called, for were costly.

Nonetheless, the Jaguars overcame all of that and the Southern Miss Eagles for a 27-20 come-from-behind victory.  Jaguars improve to 9-2 overall and still have an outside shot of a Sun Belt West Division Title.

The Jags started out strong-ish. With starting running back La’Damien Webb on the sidelines in a walking boot, true freshman Braylon McReynolds got the starting nod and reeled off a 64 yard run on the his first carry and the second play of the game.  McReynolds’ run put South Alabama inside the Southern Miss 10, but they had to settle for Diego Guajardo 27 yard field goal.

The Jaguars defense got off to a good start, forcing a quick 3 & out, but Carter Bradley threw into coverage and was picked off.  Southern Miss started the drive on their own 35, but a 12 yard pass and targeting penalty, quickly put the Golden Eagles on the Jags 38.  They would eventually score a touchdown and take a 7-3 lead.

Jags and Golden Eagles traded punts, but South Alabama’s offense continued to be stagnant.  The Jags used a fake punt to ignite the offense against Georgia Southern, but this the fake didn’t work.  Yet, the Jags defense stiffened inside the 10 and Southern Miss settled for a short field goal and 10-3 lead. 

Then the Jags offense woke up and fast.  South Alabama went 64 yds in just 1:34, culminating in a Bradley to Jalen Wayne 5 yard TD pass.  Big plays included McReynolds and Devin Voisin each making 29 yard catches.

But on that drive Bradley, Wayne & Voisin were all shaken up.  They all came back on the next possession, which resulted in a Bradley tipped INT, but the defense got off the field fast, leaving 0:44 for the offense.  Backup QB Desmond Trotter took over for a banged up Bradley and led the Jags on a 6 play, 37 yard drive that resulted in a Guajardo 49 yard field and 13-10 halftime lead.

South Alabama had a chance to take control of the game early in the 3rd quarter.  Jaden Voisin intercepted Golden Eagles QB Trey Lowe III and set up South Alabama at the USM 37.  But on 4th & 2, Bradley completed a pass to Devin Voisin that would’ve moved the ball to 20, except Voisin fumbled and Southern Miss recovered.

The Golden Eagles caught a few breaks on their next drive.  On 3 & 1, Lowe III just threw one up for grabs.  Instead of waiting for the ball to come down, Jags DB Marquise Robinson tried going thru Tiaquelin Mims and was called for pass interference.  Trying to fake a direct snap to Frank Gore, Jr, Southern Miss got away with a bad snap/fumble.  Gore tracked the ball down and completed a 29 yard TD pass to Jason Brownlee.  Never mind Brownlee appeared to push off/knock down Jags DB Darrell Luter, Jr, prior to making the catch.

Despite out gaining Southern Miss by 100 yards thru three quarters, the Jaguars found themselves down 17-13.  But Bradley, battling thru the pain, scrambles away from the rush and finds a wide open Devin Voisin for a 26 yard go-ahead touchdown.

With 11:31 left, Southern Miss had plenty of time, but by the time they found themselves facing a 4th & 6 on the South Alabama 45, they had already used almost six minutes of clock.  Instead of punting, the Golden Eagles came short trying to convert and gave the ball back to South Alabama.

The Jaguars put the game away, not by running out the clock this time, but Caullin Lacy taking a ‘pass’ from Bradley for a 33 yard touchdown and 27-17 lead with less than 2 minutes to go.

Things did get a bit interesting as Southern Miss kicked a late field goal, and almost recovering the onside kick, but Devin Voisin managed to come up with the ball.

So, despite three turnovers, a few costly penalties and an interesting fake punt decision, the Jaguars won a school record 9th game.  They’ll try to set another school record on Saturday against Old Dominion.  Maybe this next they’ll make it a little easier on themselves.