Photos by: Lauren Barksdale | News Editor
By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
It was homecoming week for the University of South Alabama that concluded with the Jaguars’ toughest task of the season. This past Saturday, the Jaguars had to host undefeated and ranked #21 Appalachian State Mountaineers. The Mountaineers would be the second ranked team faced since week one against the #24 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Appalachian State was the most balanced team on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Although preparations went well for South Alabama throughout the week, the Mountaineers were too much for the Jaguars. The Jaguars fell to the Mountaineers with a decisive 30-3 score thus making the Jaguars ineligible for a bowl game at the end of the year.
The Jaguars’ offense encountered a rough first half as they only accounted for three first downs and 23 total yards of offense. The Mountaineers were dominating the line of scrimmage against the Jaguars’ offensive line. This made running the ball inefficient for senior running back Tra Minter. In the second half, the Jaguars needed a change of pace and play setting, so they went with Desmond Trotter at quarterback. Trotter replaced starter Cephus Johnson for the remainder of the game in the second half.
South Alabama’s offense finished with a total of 10 first downs and 139 total yards with 87 of them coming from the rushing game. Minter rushed for 94 yards on 23 carries, averaging 4.1 yards per rush. Trotter threw for 43 yards on three completions out of eight passing attempts. The Mountaineers defense accounted for three sacks, seven tackles for loss, and four quarterback hurries. The Jaguars’ RPO play system (run-pass-option) was highly inefficient against this determined and focused Mountaineers defense.
Defensively, the Jaguars could not find an answer to stop the Mountaineers’ diverse rushing offense. This was despite holding starting Appalachian State running back Darrynton Evans to 46 yards on 19 carries. Their other running back in Marcus Williams gave the Jags’ defense problems in multiple different schemes. Williams rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Overall, Appalachian State accounted for 349 rushing yards against the Jags’ defense. It did not help South Alabama that they encountered several mistakes including not finishing tackles and missed angles to make the tackles.
The Mountaineers’ offense accounted for 481 total yards against the Jags defense. Jaguars outside linebacker Riley Cole accounted for five total tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and two quarterback hurries. Linebacker Shawn Jennings and nose guard Sean Brown combined for a sack against a stout Mountaineers. Safety Keith Gallmon led the Jaguars in total tackles accounted for with 10 as well as solo tackles with eight tackles.
The Jaguars will look to rebound this week and the next as they will be on bye week. The South Alabama Jaguars will play their next game in San Marcos, Texas as they play the Texas State Bobcats (2-5). The Bobcats will travel to face the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns (5-2) this Saturday.