For a team that has, at times, waited until the second half to play its best, Southern University’s performance Saturday night was a welcome change of pace.
The Jaguars’ rolled to a 20-0 halftime lead, and even found time to rest players late in what turned into a comfortable 34-7 homecoming win over Texas Southern.
Offensively, Southern rang up 390 total yards, a season-high total that paired nicely with its season-best point total, as well. Southern also had more than 100 yards rushing for the first time since the season-opener at New Mexico.
“We rebounded from a tough loss last week,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “We had a pretty good week of practice, and it showed tonight. We have our problems just like everyone else, but we’re happy to be where we are.”
Odums said one of the things he told the team was that more players would get a chance on offense. Early in the fourth quarter, Rashaun Allen dropped a pass and was replaced by William Waddel on the next play.
Waddel then caught Dray Joseph’s pass over the middle at the TSU 25, bounced off a defender and raced into the end zone completing a 46-yard scoring play.
“We’re trying to hold them accountable,” Odums said. “If the guy in front of you makes a mistake or isn’t getting it done then let’s try the guy behind him. It led to us playing a few more players.”
A sore point for Southern was penalties and third-down conversions. The Jaguars were penalized 12 times for 94 yards, and converted just 4 of 14 third downs. Southern also had a first and goal at the TSU 9 in the first quarter, and only managed a field goal.
“We played a pretty sound game, but the penalties are disheartening,” Odums said. “We had some penalties, but we didn’t have any that cost us.”
In the first half, Texas Southern appeared more than willing to help Southern establish itself. To Southern’s credit, they took advantage of the opportunities.
On Texas Southern first series, punter Robert Hersh got off an 11-yard kick after a low snap. The punt set up Southern at the TSU 39, and three plays later Terrence Clayton raced 30 yards through a huge hole for the game’s first touchdown.
Southern used a fake punt to keep its first drive of the second quarter going, but nearly turned the ball over two plays later. Texas Southern recovered a Clayton fumble at the TSU 35, but the Tigers were flagged for a facemask penalty.
Southern kept the ball, and eventually settled for Matt Hill’s 22-yard field goal, and a 13-0 lead.
“We talked about starting fast,” Southern receiver Michael Berry said. “Or, if we start slow, we wanted to come back strong in the second half. We’re trying to put it together so we can be a fast team the whole game.”
Berry turned in the game’s most electrifying play with a one-handed grab early in the third period that he turned into a 67-yard touchdown.
Berry ran a crossing route, and speared Dray Joseph’s pass with his right hand at the TSU 40. As Berry hauled in the pass, he hit the left sideline to complete the scoring play.
“When I ran the route I took a bad angle,” Berry said. “Dray thew it at the angle I was supposed to take. I thought the safety had a better angle than he did, and I just got loose and took it to the house.”
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