Southern ‘back to the drawing board’ after difficult return loss to Prairie View | From South

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The final score makes the University of the South appear to have gone into a fashion saw in Saturday’s 48-21 loss to Prairie View; fallen into it is perhaps the most accurate term.

The Jaguars were doing well, using a pair of interceptions to hold back the Panthers and trailing 14-7 at halftime. Then they stumbled out of the locker room and never got back on their feet.

In no time, Kobe Dillon made the ill-advised decision to try to return the second-half kickoff after fumbling for it in the end zone to put Southern on his own 15-yard line.

Then the Jaguars couldn’t get the first game and had to burn a time out. Three games later, Bubba McDaniel threw his second interception of the season and Prairie View had the ball at the Jaguar 18. Two games later, the visitors had a two touchdown lead.

Even though Southern responded with a touchdown on his next possession, the Panthers went for the win and scored the next 27 points as the Jaguars gave in.

“It was a snowball effect, one event affects the next,” Southern coach Jason Rollins said. “Turnovers are killers and momentum winners. In the first practice, we flipped it over and gave them a short field which gives them a two point lead. You can’t give these perks to a good team.

With a strong Prairie View team coming to AW Mumford Stadium, Southern had to use every weapon available on Saturday, and the Jaguars would…

It was unfortunate for the Jaguars with the energy and excitement of the homecoming ubiquitous in and around AW Mumford Stadium. If turnovers are killers and momentum winners, Southern didn’t use theirs, scoring seven of two points while the Panthers got 17 on three takeaways.

This was not a case where the Jaguars did not feed on energy. They were overwhelmed by a better team.

“There was a lot of emotion in that game for our team,” said linebacker Ray Anderson. “We put a lot of effort and a lot of heart and fight.”

Rollins said his team are plugged in and ready, especially in the first half.

“The intensity has not dropped,” he said. “It was a momentum, football is a swing game. When you lose momentum with a turnover, it takes you off and gives the other team a boost. You have to respond, find a way to respond score for score and keep the momentum on your side.

It also helps to be strong up front. For the first time this season other than the Troy game, Southern was decisively beaten on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Jaguars failed to loosen the area with their passing play and the Panthers’ defensive speed closed the perimeter.

The best running team in the conference, Southern runners average 3.2 yards per carry. Prairie View’s backs are averaging 6.1.

“This is where the game is won or lost,” Rollins said. “Whoever wins the trenches wins the game. We didn’t go to the trenches tonight.

Southern isn’t like most other SWAC teams that rely on explosive games and players. The Jaguars must first impose their will with their solid racing game, then pick places to attack downstream. They couldn’t do either Saturday. Prairie View had eight explosive plays of at least 20 yards and Southern had one. Without the 56-yard touchdown pass, the Jaguars had 194 attacking yards.

Going forward, the Jaguars have plenty of time to save the season now that a division title is highly unlikely. He will have to find a way to make the next four opponents pay to stack the box with defenders to stop the race.

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Alcorn State will take a look at what Prairie View has done defensively and copy some of the tactics. The southern coaching team must come up with their own chess moves to respond.

“We let this one slip away and that puts us in a painful situation,” Anderson said. “We know all we can do is go to work, no other option. We cannot lie down to finish the season. No other team will see our record and say, “Southern is bad this year” and not let us down. We have to put the other teams in a bind as we are in a bind right now.

“The beautiful thing about football is that things are going to happen. It won’t turn out the way you plan. You can prepare as much as you want. There is no crystal ball, perfect game, or right answer to everything. All you can do is go back to the drawing board.

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