NORMAL, Ala. — Southern running back Sylvester Nzekwe posted his second straight 100-yard rushing day Saturday against Alabama A&M.
A week after rushing for 106 yards on 18 carries against Prairie View, Nzekwe finished with 105 yards on 16 carries in Southern’s 24-23 overtime loss to the Bulldogs.
“Our offensive line did a great job,”said Nzekwe, who had a lot of success running the draw play. “I just wish I could have gotten in the end zone.”
Nzekwe entered the game averaging 3.9 yards per game, but averaged a whopping 6.6 yards per carry against the Bulldogs.
He had 87 yards in total offense in the first half, 73 rushing and 14 receiving.
Southern kicker Matthew Hill had a tough day Saturday.
In addition to missing an extra point that cost the Jaguars a possible victory, Hill also had a field goal blocked and missed a field goal that could have likely given Southern a victory in regulation.
Hill had made 3-of-5 field goals and all 14 of his extra points entering Saturday’s game.
Hill’s 45-yard field goal late in the third quarter was a career long and tied the game at 10-10.
Southern linebacker Anthony Balancier tied Levi Jackson and DÁndre Woodard for the team lead with two interceptions.
Balancier picked off Alabama A&M quarterback Deaunte Mason early in the fourth quarter to give the Jaguars the ball at the Bulldogs’ 21.
“I read the play the whole time and the ball ended up in my hands,” said Balancier, who finished with six tackles.
Quarterback Dray Joseph said the Jaguars showed what they were made of in the second half and overtime.
Southern trailed 10-0 at halftime, but battled back and scored 17 unanswered points to take the lead and led against in overtime, before falling 24-23.
“I’m proud of our effort,”said Joseph, who was 16-of-32 for 148 yards and two touchdowns, despite being sacked four times. “We were down 10, and we came out and we fought.
“The line protected and allowed get off some passes, and we were able to score. We did a great job in the second half and overtime.”
The Jaguars struggled in the first half.
Southern’s first six possessions ended in a fake punt, four punts and a missed field goal.
Southern interim coach Dawson Odums didn’t waste any time going into his bag of tricks Saturday.
On the Jaguars’ first possession, Odums called for a fake punt, but punter Chase Tuten’s pass to Charles Hawkins was incomplete.
Penalties hampered both teams.
Southern was whistled 11 times for 91 yards, while Alabama A&M was flagged 11 times for 125 yards.
Southern came away with two interceptions, one each from Kevin King and Balancier, but Odums said the Jaguars should have had at least two more.
“We dropped two,” he said. “We had a couple of chances at some tipped balls that we left out there that would have gotten us off the field. You’ve got to make all the plays against good football teams to beat them.”
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