By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
There were high expectations for the South Alabama Jaguars as they hosted the last-place team in the Sun Belt Conference, the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The Jaguars were looking to start their best five-game start under third-year head coach Steve Campbell as they had a great opportunity to do so facing up against a Warhawks team with no wins and five losses. South started strong but then stalled for a bit in the first half. In the end, the Jaguars finished even stronger as they won big 38-14 in Hancock Whitney Stadium.
After the Jaguars punted on their first possession, the Warhawks were looking to be the first on the scoreboard. They were driving the ball well until Jaguars cornerback Devin Rockette caught a tipped pass interception and returned a 95-yard touchdown. This was the first defensive touchdown since 2018.
After a punt from ULM on the next drive, South Alabama kicked a 50-yard field goal sophomore placekicker Diego Guajardo. South scored one more time in the first quarter thanks to an excellent read from quarterback Desmond Trotter to senior wide receiver Kawaan Baker for an 80-yard touchdown. The Jaguars went into the second quarter with a huge 17-0 lead on ULM.
After halftime, the Jaguars found themselves in some situations where they could capitalize on the issues they were failing to overcome in the second quarter. The Warhawks defense created chaos into the Jaguars’ backfield as they accounted for six tackles for loss and three sacks. Their first scoring drive was set up by a 32-yard pass from Trotter to Baker. In a ten-play drive, Trotter was able to scramble into the endzone on a five-yard run to make the 24-6 score. On the next drive for South Alabama, Trotter found Baker again for a 16-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Warhawks found a scoring drive thanks to three big passing plays from quarterback Colby Suits to three different receivers. The drive resulted in a four-yard touchdown pass from Suits to wide receiver Jordan Carroll. The following drive, the Jaguars converted multiple consistent first downs as they started on their 29-yard line. Running backs Terrion Avery and Jared Wilson was key in keeping the clock running and extending the drives. The drive resulted in a five-yard touchdown pass from Trotter to Baker for the game’s third score between the two. That 16-play drive took 10:47 minutes off the clock as the Jaguars led 38-17 with 1:48 minutes left.
The Jaguars outgained the Warhawks in total yards accounted for 415-to-380. South Alabama was able to convert 8-of-14 of their third downs. Trotter threw for 184 yards, three touchdowns, and a 278 quarterback rating on eight completions (out of 12 passing attempts). Kawaan Baker was named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week as he caught six receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensive end Jamie Sheriff had a breakout game against the Warhawks as he accounted for three solo tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss. Safety Keith Gallmon led the team in total tackles accounted (seven), solo tackles (seven), and one tackle for loss. Outside linebacker Riley Cole accounted for five total tackles, three solo tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss. Overall, the Jaguars defense accounted for three sacks, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and an interception.
The Jaguars will have a tough set of road trips as they will have four of their next five games against teams with a .500% winning record. Among the toughest road games is at the #20 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. This Thursday night, the Jaguars (3-2; 2-0 in Sun Belt play) will face the Georgia Southern Eagles (3-2; 1-2 in Sun Belt play).