Valley presents devilish challenge for visiting Southern

Mississippi Valley State has had its struggles in Southwestern Athletic Conference Play.

The Delta Devils have gone 135-280-8 since joining the conference in 1968.

Yet over the past few seasons, Mississippi Valley State has been a thorn in the Jaguars’ side.

The two schools have split the past two contests, with Valley claiming a 6-0 victory last season in Baton Rouge, while the Jaguars snuck past the Delta Devils in 2011, 28-21.

Three seasons ago, Valley had Southern on the ropes, trailing by only four points heading into the fourth quarter.

With the Jaguars facing a third-and-23, tight end Rashaun Allen hauled in a pass from quarterback Dray Joseph down the sideline and dashed 73-yards for the touchdown.

The loss was the second closest margin of defeat for Valley at 18 points in a season as the Delta Devils failed to notch a victory on the year.

Valley came within two touchdowns of knocking off conference rival Alabama A&M in its final regular season game of 2010.

The last time Southern visited Itta Bena, Miss., it narrowly escaped with a hard-fought seven-point victory.

With the game tied at 21 early in the fourth quarter, Southern quarterback J.P. Douglas found wide receiver LaQuinton Evans for a 58-yard touchdown reception for the game’s deciding score.

The loss marked the Delta Devils 18th consecutive conference loss, yet was the smallest margin of defeat in conference play since 2009.

Valley’s shutout victory last season was its first since 2008 when the Delta Devils blanked Texas College 38-0.

Southern also failed to score in the 1991 matchup, falling 7-0 to the Delta Devils in Itta Bena, Miss.

Mississippi Valley State’s stunning upset over Southern last year cemented former coach Stump Mitchell’s quick and sudden departure.

Less than 24 hours following the abysmal home defeat, Mitchell was fired just two games into his third season.

“My first year that I was at Valley, that was the first game going into the fourth quarter where we actually had a chance to win,” coach Karl Morgan said. “I can’t put my finger on it, but for some reason we always plays Southern tough.”

However, Southern has dominated the all-time series, holding a 34-9 series lead, including winning 16 of the last 18 matchups.

The Jaguars also hold four shutouts against the Delta Devils, the most by any school.

The two universities have faced off on the gridiron every season from 1967 to 1998.

The two schools did not meet in 1999 and 2000, as well as in 2009.

Injury updates

Despite earlier reports in the week that he would play Saturday, Southern will be without defensive back Virgil Williams against Mississippi Valley.

Williams injured his rib cage last week against Prairie View in the first quarter while returning a punt and did not return to action.

The All-conference defensive back is expected back next week when the Jaguars play host to Jackson State.

The Jaguars will have back for Saturday’s game SAM linebacker Daniel Brown.

Brown, who left last week’s game with a sternum injury, led the team in tackles in its first two games of the season.