Jags travel to play Georgia Southern Saturday
(Statesboro, GA)--South Alabama tries to keep it's bowl hopes alive when it travels to play Georgia Southern Saturday.
Joey Jones (Alabama '89)
Record at USA — 52-48 (9th season)
Career record — 55-55 (10th season)
Career Sun Belt record — 18-27
Record vs. GS — 0-3
Georgia Southern (interim)
Chad Lunsford (Georgia College '00)
Record at GS — 0-3 (1st season)
Career Record — same
Record vs. USA — 0-0
Associated Press — n/a
Coaches — n/a
Sagarin — 123rd
Associated Press — n/a
Coaches — n/a
Sagarin — 173rd
Overall: GS leads 3-0
In Mobile: GSU leads 2-0
In Statesboro: GS leads 1-0
Series Streak: GS — 3
First Meeting: GS, 28-6, on Sept. 20, 2014, in Mobile
Last Meeting: GS, 24-9, on Sept. 10, 2016, in Mobile
• South Alabama kept its postseason bowl hopes alive with a 24-19 Senior Day victory over Arkansas State last Saturday, the program's first win over the Red Wolves in six tries.
• The Jaguars have now handed both Troy — currently in a three-way tie for first — and the Red Wolves their first Sun Belt Conference losses of the season.
• South concludes the 2017 season with the first of two road games Saturday at Georgia Southern.
• The Eagles have won all three previous meetings in the series with the Jaguars.
• The 55 points GS scored in the only matchup between the two programs in Statesboro are the most the Jags have allowed to a Sun Belt opponent.
• USA has been held to single-figure point totals by the Eagles in two of the three contests.
• The Jaguars have fallen in their last three visits to the Peach State over the last two-plus seasons.
Notes From The Last Georgia Southern Meeting
• Gavin Patterson kicked three field goals — the first of his career and still a career-high total — to account for all of South's scoring.
• The Jags' Roman Buchanan paced all players with 13 total stops, which would end up the most he recorded during his four-year career.
• Dallas Davis threw for 279 for the Jaguars, becoming the first USA quarterback ever to post 275 or more passing yards in back-to-back contests.
• The Eagles were one of two teams to run for more than 300 yards against the Jaguar defense last fall, finishing the game with 304 yards on 63 carries.
• Favian Upshaw had 100-plus yards rushing (a game-high 108) and throwing (127 on 6-of-9 passing) to help GS average six yards per play while ending the day with 35 minutes and 26 seconds of possession, the second-highest figure recorded against South by an SBC school.
South's defense had six takeaways — with the final two coming on ASU's last drives of the game — the most the unit has recorded against an NCAA Division I opponent while coming up one shy of matching the school game record set on Oct. 29, 2011, in a 28-3 win over Henderson (Ark.) State. The total included a school-record-tying four interceptions, the first time the Jaguars have posted that many in Division I competition, with the trio of Darrell Songy, Sean Grayer and Tobias Moss contributing to the total with the first interceptions of their careers.
Ground Game Gone
USA limited the A-State offense to only 118 yards and eight first downs before the break while holding the Red Wolves to 66 yards rushing — one more than their season-low total coming into play — and less than half their season scoring average of 40.4 points per outing in the contest. It was the third time this year the Jags have surrendered less than 100 yards on the ground, improving the team to 3-0 in 2017 and 26-2 all-time when accomplishing the feat.
No Rush, No Problem
On the other hand, A-State held the Jags to minus-three yards on the ground in the contest, the first time USA has finished with a negative rushing total since the inception of the program in 2009. While South has failed to reach triple figures rushing in six contests this fall, they have picked up two of their three wins in league play with less than 100 yards rushing.
Sacks Are Back
After failing to record a sack in any of their three previous outings, the Jaguars posted a season-best four in the win over the Red Wolves. Four of the five individuals who contributed to the effort (one was shared) had not been credited with a sack this fall entering the game; Tre Alford and Sean Grayer each had their first since the 2015 campaign while Zach Befort and Wade Forde picked up the first of their careers.
The Jaguars forced two turnovers — one on special teams, one on defense — before the Red Wolves began their opening drive at the ASU-13, and after another interception South had to go only 29 yards before taking a 7-0 lead with just over five minutes left in the first quarter. The Jag defense would give up just 118 total yards and eight first downs over the opening 30 minutes while taking a 10-6 advantage to the locker room; after going on to complete the victory, USA is now 38-6 when leading at the break, including 4-1 this year.
Barge's Big Night
LB Bull Barge posted a career-best 13 stops — the first time in his two-plus seasons as a Jag that he has reached double digits in the category — including his first behind the line this year in the ASU win to be selected the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week. South was leading by five points with just over five minutes remaining in the game when he forced a fumble at the one-yard line that was recovered by USA in the end zone for a touchback; it was his second forced fumble of the season, one more than he was credited with in his first two years with the program. With the effort, the junior moved into the top 10 all-time in the school's record books with 147 stops in his career.
Garvin Goes Off
With the Jaguar ground game limited by the A-State defense, Cole Garvin — making his first start since the Jaguars defeated Troy on Oct. 11 — completed 25-of-45 passes for a career-best 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns; the junior's passing yards were the second-highest total ever recorded in a game by a South quarterback. It's the first time in his career that Garvin has thrown for multiple scores in back-to-back contests as well as the first occasion he has finished with more than 300 yards of total offense, and for the effort he was chosen the league's Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.
Senior Seals The Deal
Senior Jeremy Reaves finished with 12 stops against the Red Wolves, the fourth time this fall that he has recorded a double-figure total after accomplishing the feat on four occasions his first three seasons at the collegiate level. Not only does he stand second on South's all-time tackle list with 281 in his career, but on his last play at home as a Jaguar he intercepted a pass near midfield to clinch the victory.
Songy Makes Three
In addition to intercepting the first pass of his Jag career Songy was credited with a season-best 10 stops, the first time this fall the senior has reached double digits in the category, along with another pass broken up. It was the second occasion this year that USA has had multiple defenders post 10-plus tackles while it was the first time three individuals had 10 or more stops in the same game since the Jaguars visited ULM on Nov. 5 last fall.
Did You 'Z' That?
Garvin got a total of 10 catches from the 'Z' wide receiver slot against the Red Wolves, with Malik Stanley posting a team-best six and Jordan McCray ending up with a squad-high 72 yards after catching four balls; all three of those totals were the highest of the duo's careers. It's the second straight outing that the former has led South in receptions while the latter had recorded 70 yards combined in the previous seven games.
Sam I Am
WR Sam Harris had just two catches in the A-State contest, his lowest total in a month, but it did include a 39-yard touchdown reception in the closing moments of the third quarter to help extend USA's advantage to 17-6 at the time. With 56 yards in the contest, the junior — a former walk-on — entered the top 10 on the Jaguars' season record lists both with 38 receptions and 526 receiving yards.