Tight Squeeze: Jaguars top Bulldogs at home

Junior Quarterback Ladarius Skelton,splits defensive backs Trenton McGhee and Amari Holloway in Saturday’s homecoming matchup against Alabama A&M. (Rocelyn Hamilton/DIGEST)

20,344 fans were in attendance at A.W. Mumford Stadium for the annual Homecoming Game. After losing to the Alcorn State Braves last week in Mississippi, the Jaguars still were in control of their own destiny for the SWAC Championship Game in Atlanta. For a game that started off as a defensive battle, it quickly turned into an offensive shoot-out. 

The Southern Jaguars didn’t waste any time starting the game off. A few plays down the field, and quarterback LaDarius Skelton easily rushed into the endzone for a 27 yard touchdown run. Coach Odums praised Skelton on his performance against A&M saying, “I think offensively LaDarius Skelton probably played one of the more complete games at that position in a long time, I was proud of him to finally see him put it all together again.”  Alabama A&M’s offense was aggressive early, going for it on 4th & 6. Good thing the Jaguar defense was just as aggressive, forcing a turnover on downs. 

In an effort to increase the lead by two touchdowns, the Jags’ 4th down attempt was halted by a host of Bulldogs. The Bulldogs’ defense contained Skelton and the Jaguar offense for the rest of the first quarter. On the next offensive series, the Jaguars switched quarterbacks and Glendon “Bubba” McDaniel took over. After two plays, McDaniel was intercepted. The Bulldogs tied the game up late in the second quarter. 

With LaDarius Skelton back in the game at quarterback, looking to take back the lead, he used his legs as a weapon, taking the Jags across midfield. A few plays later, running back Devon Benn rushed the ball into the endzone and the Jags retaken the lead 14-7 before halftime.  

Only taking three minutes to start the second half of the game, running four plays for 75 yards, the Bulldogs tied the game on a busted coverage that left a man wide open for a touchdown. With the game tied at 14, Skelton connected with tight end Travis Tucker, taking the offense down the field to the red zone. 

On 3rd and short the Jaguars were stopped. Coach Odums decided again to go for it on 4th and 1 at the 1-yd line, the Bulldogs once again stuffed the run at the line, making it turnover on downs. On 3rd & 14, Skelton passed the ball to wide receiver Hunter Register, Jaguars retaking the lead for the third time in the game.

After a fifteen yard penalty on the Jags defense, Bulldogs quarterback Aqeel Glass threw the ball for a 60 yard touchdown, only taking 39 seconds after running just 3 plays late in the 3rd quarter. 

The Jaguars were threatening to score to start the 4th quarter, with a few good rushes by Devon Benn. On the very next play, Skelton scored on a quarterback keeper. However, Glass would once again keep the Bulldogs in the fight, tying the game in the middle of the fourth quarter 28-28. 

After the Jaguar offense stalled, a muffed punt gave the Bulldogs good field position right at the 50 yard line. Needing a stop on 3rd & long, the Jags defense got the job done. A&M attempted and converted a 44-yard field goal, giving them a 3 point lead with 4:20 left to play in the game. 

With just under two minutes left in the game, the Jaguars drove down the field eagerly to win the game in regulation. Having 32 seconds left in regulation with the game on the line, Skelton came in the clutch and threw a dart to wide receiver Hunter Register for the game winning touchdown with only seconds left on the clock. 

Coach Odums felt positive when reflecting on the game winner. “I thought it was a good heavyweight battle, our guys showed some grit to be able to pull a game out like that.” With just four seconds left in the game, a huge sack from defensive end Jalen Ivy capped off the homecoming win 35-31. Senior linebacker Calvin Lunkins reacted to Jalen Ivy’s sack saying, “That was nothing but God getting that sack to end the game, everybody stormed the field. That was just a blessing.”

The Jaguars next opponent is Virginia University at Lynchburg at Mumford Stadium on November 9, 2019 at 4pm. Fans are encouraged to wear navy blue and camo.

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