MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WAFB) - Defense was the story early on for Southern at Alabama State and the offenses would eventually get things going but the game came down to special teams at the end.
The Jags (2-0) edged the Hornets (1-1), 24-21. Each team turned the ball over three times.
Ladarius Skelton was 10-of-22 for 135 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Southern rushing attack with 72 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
On Alabama State’s first possession, Jordan Lewis made a big hit on quarterback Ryan Nettles and jarred the ball loose for a sack-fumble. The pigskin was scooped up by Malik Ellis, who took it down to the Hornets’ 2-yard line. Unfortunately, Alabama State made a great goal line stand and Southern turned the ball over on downs.
However, just three plays later, Chase Foster out of Southern Lab got a pick-six to put the Jags up, 7-0.
The Jaguar defense then forced a punt but on Southern’s next possession, wide receiver Brandon Hinton caught a short pass and fumbled. Alabama State recovered it for another big defensive play.
Later, the Jags were driving but Jarod Sims fumbled and the Hornets recovered it. The turnover ended up being very costly, as Alabama State put together an 8-play, 60-yard drive that was capped off with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Nettles to Jeremiah Hixon to tie it, 7-7, with just over 1:00 left in the first half.
Southern received the opening kickoff to start the second half and marched 45 yards in seven plays to take the lead. Skelton kept the ball on an option and ran eight yards for the touchdown to give the Jags a 14-7 lead.
Alabama State responded with its own touchdown drive. Nettles connected with Michael Johnson from 14 yards out to tie it, 14-14, with 8:21 remaining in the third quarter.
Southern’s next possession resulted in another turnover. Skelton fumbled while trying to get away from a Hornet rusher and Alabama State recovered at the Southern 5-yard line. It proved to be another costly turnover, as a few plays later, Jacory Merritt plunged across the goal line from a yard out to give Alabama State the 21-14 lead just before the end of the third quarter.
The Jags were able to bounce back and Skelton found a wide open Gregory Perkins for a 59-yard touchdown to tie it, 21-21, just 40 seconds into the fourth quarter. They then retook the lead, 24-21, on a 41-yard field goal by Cesar Barajas.
The Hornets tried to tie it but was wide left on a 44-yard field goal with four seconds left and the Jags picked up a season-opening win.
Both teams were 1-0 before this game was played due to Alcorn State forfeiting all of its games this season.
The Jaguars will next be home at A.W. Mumford Stadium to host UAPB on Saturday, March 6, at 1:30 p.m. It is their only home game of the season.
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