Valley stands firm, keeps Southern off scoreboard in stunner
Offense was a valuable commodity Thursday evening at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
Mississippi Valley State visited Southern University for the Jaguars’ Southwestern Athletic Conference opener, and a lone score was the difference for the Delta Devils in a 6-0 win.
Their defense made sure that’s all they needed.
“I knew we could do it. We just had to show the world,” Valley senior defensive end Leployer Franklin said. “We know what we go through in practice with the coaches. Being a senior, I feel like this is my defense, and getting a shutout is such a good feeling.”
The groundwork for Valley’s win was laid last week in the second half of a 29-7 loss at Alabama State. During those final two quarters in Montgomery, Ala., the Devils limited the Hornets to a second-half field goal. With that, they felt they’d turned a corner.
“We talked about playing hard and not letting the game get away from us,” Valley coach Karl Morgan said after improving to 2-21 in his third year. “It got away from us last week, but we had a good second half and built off of that. The second half against Alabama State carried us into here.”
The final numbers for Southern will likely keep Valley among the SWAC’s defensive leaders — 197 yards of offense, and just 3 of 14 successful third-down conversions. Three times in the second half, the Jaguars drove inside the MVSU 20, but they undid themselves with mistakes and turnovers.
Gregory Pittman was wide right with a 37-yard field-goal try in the third quarter. In the fourth, Valley linebacker Keven Woods stripped Southern backup quarterback J.P. Douglas of the ball to stop one drive. Later, Jeremy Johnson intercepted Joseph to end another scoring threat.
“We wanted to show everybody that we’re better than our record,” Woods said. “This is a big win. Our coaches stressed that we had to execute, and it was definitely a team effort.”
The teams played to a virtual standstill in the first half, when favorable field position came and went for both teams. Southern had the best of it in the first quarter while Valley got a better shake in the second. Still, neither team found the end zone until the closing minutes in the half.
With Southern facing a fourth-and-11 at the SU 19, Jaguars punter Chase Tuten dropped the snap. Three Delta Devils converged on Tuten, and Valley recovered the ball at the SU 3.
Valley wasted no time. On the next play, Trey Bateaste bulled in for the game’s only touchdown on the next play. A botched snap helped Southern block Kevin Monzon’s extra-point attempt, but the damage had been done.
The Devils were more than happy to take that small lead; after all, in the first quarter, their average starting field position was their own 7-yard line. Valley got going late in the first quarter, picking up three first downs as it drove to midfield.
Valley was forced to punt, but the Delta Devils had turned the field around on Southern.
The Jaguars started all three of their first-quarter drives near their 40 — but their next three second-quarter starts came at or inside their own 20.
“Southern is a team we’ve matched up with competitively the last two years,” Morgan said. “We felt good about playing them. We got off to a good start, hung in there and won the game.”