The Southern rush defense had been much maligned through the first four games of the season, and rightfully so. The Jaguars had given up 257.2 yards per game, including 419 yards on the ground to Prairie View two weeks ago.
Jackson State entered Saturday’s game as one of the better rushing offenses in the SWAC.
The Tigers racked up an average of 174.5 rushing yards per game, good for third-best in the conference.
However, just as they had done the week before, Southern’s rush defense limited the high-powered rushing attack of Jackson State to a mere 58 yards at the half.
Jackson State quarterback Clayton Moore led the Tigers in rushing through the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s game, accumulating 40 yards, including a long of 11.
Jackson State came out in the second half seeking to establish its rushing attack with four straight running plays producing 25 total yards.
Following a Southern turnover at the 9-yard line, Moore sneaked the ball into the end zone five plays later for a 2-yard touchdown run shifting the score to 13-7 in favor of the Tigers.
Jackson State added another 2-yard rushing score when tailback Rakeem Sims took a handoff off the left side and walked into the end zone for a 19-7 Jackson State lead.
The Jackson State rushing attack came to life in the third quarter and showed why it’s one of the more potent rushing attacks in the conference, racking up 90 yards on 20 carries.
Back in action
Southern junior wide receiver Sam Altman and All-Southwestern Athletic Conference cornerback Virgil Williams returned to action on Saturday.
Both players missed last week’s matchup against Mississippi Valley State with rib injuries.
Offense starts slow again
During Tuesday’s weekly media luncheon, coach Dawson Odums said if there were a switch he could flip for his offense in the first quarter, he would turn it on then and not wait until the second half.
The Jaguars offense continued its pattern of sluggish beginnings again Saturday as Jackson State held Southern scoreless on just 140 yards through the first 27 minutes.
However, Southern freshman running back Lenard Tillery was able to break a 60-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.
Tillery took a handoff from quarterback Dray Joseph from the shotgun formation, busted through the line and into the second level of the defense, then outraced Jackson State defensive backs down the sideline for the score.
The score marked Tillery’s fifth rushing touchdown of the season and the longest rush of his career.
Southern junior offensive lineman Zach Brown recorded his first career reception Saturday. Brown was on the receiving end of an 8-yard completion after hauling in a ricochet off the hands of Southern receiver Lee Doss.
Three SWAC teams entered Saturday unbeaten in conference play: Southern, Jackson State and Alcorn State.
Alcorn State lost to Alabama State 49-30, leaving Jackson State as the lone unbeaten school remaining in conference play.
With the Jaguars idle next week, the organization ‘A Nation of Dominance’ is sponsoring a fish fry on Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gate 14 on the east side of A.W. Mumford Stadium. The organization is charging $7 a plate, and all fans are invited to attend.