Somehow, some way, Southern found a way to win a game on a night it was in danger of getting run out of its own stadium.
The home team trailed by as many as three touchdowns, hemorrhaged more than 700 yards on defense and had trouble sustaining drives through three quarters.
The Jaguars rode memorable fourth-quarter performances by the senior tandem of quarterback Dray Joseph and receiver Lee Doss just to get in position for what could become a landmark Southwestern Athletic Conference win.
Joseph and Doss, combined with key late stops and a turnover from an up-until-then battered defense, earned the Jaguars a thrilling 62-59 double-overtime win over Prairie View at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
It’s only fitting that Joseph and Doss connected on the game-clinching touchdown — a 24-yarder in double overtime — to send the stadium into hysterics and the Southern bench hugging and running out in random directions onto the field.
“Man, what a game,” coach Dawson Odums said. “People wanted to know what’s wrong with the team, about whether they quit. Even their coach said it looked like we had a problem with finishing. We could have quit at halftime but didn’t.
“We made some mistakes, but the effort was there, the excitement was there. That was a shootout tonight. There are going to be nights like this.”
The ferocious Southern comeback featured the Jaguars running off 29 fourth-quarter points and tie the game three times — the last coming with less than a minute remaining — before a crowd of 11,146 that morphed from lethargic to frenzied within a half hour of real time.
Joseph finished 30-of-48 passing for 480 yards and six touchdowns. Doss, who was suspended for the first quarter after a violation of team policy, had nine receptions for 214 yards and three touchdowns, and Lenard Tillery added three TDs on the ground.
Prairie View countered with 224 rushing yards from Courtney Brown and 153 more from Johnta’ Hebert. They each rushed for three scores.
The visiting Panthers were first on the scoreboard. Prairie View took the opening kickoff 11 plays and 74 yards on a drive culminated by a 3-yard TD run by Hebert. After Mike Jones had a 38-yard touchdown reception for Southern, Hebert scored the Panthers’ second touchdown, this time around the left side from the SU 2.
After forcing a Southern punt, the PVU offense went back to work. In what was a trend in the first half, Prairie View embarked on another 80-yard drive. PVU rode the legs of Brown heavily during the possession, amassing 37 yards on three carries to start the trek. Then the Panthers took to the air, a quick-hitting swing pass from Jerry Lovelocke to receiver Gabe Dunlap in the right flat for a 6-yard touchdown.
At that point Southern nearly had given up two 100-yard rushing performances, but the Jaguars found a way to draw within a touchdown. Tillery raced through a seam in the middle, outrunning three PVU defenders the final 20 yards to the end zone to make it 21-13.
The momentum change was short-lived. Prairie View’s offense once again zoomed downfield. A key first-down conversion on a short pass from Lovelocke to Jacoby Anderson set up the Panthers at the Southern 5. Two plays later, Brown took it in from the 1 to make it 28-13 at halftime.
In the second half, a 34-yard run by Dunlap to the Southern 7 set the stage for another Brown TD run the next play. Southern got a nifty return by sophomore receiver Willie Quinn to the PVU 26-yard-line. The effort led to a 2-yard score by Tillery that brought SU within 35-20 at the end of the third quarter, seeming to enliven a largely listless crowd.
On the ensuing Prairie View possession, SU finally got the defensive play it needed when Blake Monroe forced a fumble that was recovered by Detrane Lindsey at the SU 45 with 13:55 to go.
The offense took advantage when Doss took in a behind-the-line throw and ran 33 yards to the Panthers 12. Tillery took it from there, bursting through the line for a 2-yard score that drew his team within 35-27 with 11:12 left.
After the Southern defense forced a punt on the next drive, the Southern bench and crowd began jumping and swaying, sensing a comeback.
They got just that. The Jaguars get successive tying touchdowns from Doss — with a Lovelocke TD run sandwiched in between. Hebert’s 41-yard TD run put PVU back up 49-42 with 2:40 left, but Willie Quinn’s 11-yard TD grab yielded yet another tie, this time at 49 with 50 seconds left.
The Panthers drove into Southern territory yet again, reaching the Jaguars 34. A field goal attempt from there just missed right as time expired.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime before the Southern defense forced PVU’s Christopher Barrick into a 25-yard field goal attempt that made it 59-56 in the second. That led to the Joseph-to-Doss dramatics.
“I know what we’re capable of. Guys did a great job of stepping up,” Joseph said. “(Doss) stayed positive. Guys feed off his energy, so I told him to come in, be positive and play like he knows how to play. ... As Southern Jaguars, we face adversity every week — guys getting ineligible, guys getting hurt — but we’ve got to believe. This will hopefully give us lots of momentum.”