Big fourth quarter lifts PV by Jaguars
SHREVEPORT — Prairie View’s camouflage uniforms didn’t fool anyone.
Southern could see the Panthers, it just couldn’t stop them.
For the second week in a row, the Jaguars defense was gashed and gutted for a season-worst performance, giving up so many yards and points that even a good day for the SU offense wasn’t enough to keep up.
PV exploded in the fourth quarter, turning a back-and-forth affair into a 49-29 win in front of an unannounced crowd at Independence Stadium for the Shreveport Classic.
Prairie View racked up a gaudy 645 yards, riding a massive performance from quarterback Deauntre Smiley to take full control of a game with four second-half lead changes.
“We couldn’t stop them,” SU interim coach Dawson Odums said. “We couldn’t get them off the field. (Smiley) made some runs, and we missed tackles. It’s the second week in a row where a running quarterback has given us problems, and we have to fix that.”
Smiley finished with 398 yards and four touchdowns on 29-of-38 passing, and he added another 170 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries.
Tally that up, and his 568 total yards are the most in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this season. Jackson State quarterback Clayton Moore held the previous record at 464 yards.
“Once I go back and look at the film I might get mad at him, but right now, he’s my favorite player in the room,” PV coach Heishma Northern said.
The win gave Northern’s squad (3-5, 3-3 SWAC) three victories in a row, and the Panthers have now beaten Southern five straight times, the first such streak since 1952-56.
Besides that streak, there’s a more troubling issue for Southern (3-5, 2-4 SWAC), which has now been eliminated from the SWAC West race.
This despite a strong outing from the Jaguars offense, which put up 407 yards and had only one turnover. It was the team’s best output of the year, notching a 100-yard rusher (Sylvester Nzekwe) for the first time this season.
Quarterback Dray Joseph finished 24 of 37 for 317 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, receiver Lee Doss hauled in two touchdowns, and wideouts Mike Berry and Charles Hawkins scored as well.
Southern even hit a field goal — a 23-yarder from Matt Hill.
It was just the kind of outing Southern would have dreamed up for its offense before the season. It just wasn’t enough.
“If you get 29 points in a football game, I think every coach in the country feels like that’s a football game that they have a chance to win,” Odums said. “We’ll take that every day of the week, but we didn’t finish. Tonight, we needed our offense to get 50, and I think that’s tough to ask them to go out and get 50 points.”
The real difference came in the fourth quarter.
Southern went into that period with a 29-28 lead thanks to Berry’s 34-yard touchdown, finishing a third quarter where SU outscored the Panthers 19-7 to erase a 21-10 halftime deficit.
But from there, Prairie View scored three times and posted 242 yards, while Southern was scoreless and managed only 1 yard, with 11 passing and negative-10 rushing.
“We’re just not making the plays we need to make to stay on the field or get off the field,” Odums said.
Linebacker Corry Roy summed up the defense’s half of that equation more succinctly.
“Missed tackles, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “Missed tackles.”
That was the problem in the Jaguars’ previous worst defensive outing, last week’s 50-21 loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff in which they surrendered 510 yards.
But this was far worse, as the Panthers scored at will in the fourth quarter, when all three touchdown drives spanned 70 yards or more on five plays or fewer. By the time Smiley jogged into the end zone to cap a 62-yard touchdown scamper with 3:07 on the clock, the game was well in hand, leaving Southern with a long bus ride home to contemplate a season that is quickly spiraling away into another disappointment.
“As a defensive coordinator, I’m not happy about how we’re performing on defense,” Odums said. “We have to go back and figure some things out.”
On the other side, Northern’s bunch is riding high. With a shot at division leader UAPB still on the schedule, they’d need to win out and have the Golden Lions lose one of their other two remaining games to take the division.
That’s a surprising place for the Panthers to find themselves after an embarrassingly slow start.
“I told them when we were 0-5 that I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else in the world,” he said.