By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
Photos by: Lauren Barksdale | Photographer
After an extended break in a bye-week in week three, the South Alabama Jaguars were back in action against the UAB Blazers on Thursday night in Hancock Whitney Stadium. The Jaguars were looking to get revenge on the Blazers after their loss last season in Birmingham with a 35-3 score. While there were signs of hope in the second quarter, the Blazers rushing offense and powerful defense defeated the Jaguars.
This was the second-ever matchup between the Jaguars and the Blazers in program history. Head coach Steve Campbell was ready for this matchup since they lost to the Blazers last year. The Jaguars were looking to use this last non-conference game of the season to prepare for the Sun Belt Conference push.
This was the first game for former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College transfer Chance Lovertich as the starting quarterback for South Alabama as he took over for the injured Desmond Trotter. In the past two games, the Jaguars were highly efficient in developing the deep passing game with Trotter and star wide receivers Jalen Tolbert and Kawaan Baker. Against the Blazers, they decided to work on their short-to-mid-range passing game.
Lovertich had a difficult game overall as he passed for 168 yards, one touchdown, and one interception on 14 completions (out of 29 attempts). This was his first loss as a starting quarterback since he was in high school. The Blazers defense did an efficient job of locking down the deep passing routes. The biggest passing play from the Jaguars was a 38-yard touchdown pass from Lovertich to Tolbert on an incredible Randy Moss-type catch on a tightly contested coverage. That play was at the beginning of the second quarter, which was the only quarter where they could put points on the board. After that touchdown by Tolbert, the Jaguars recovered an onside kick. That drive concluded with a 31-yard field goal by kicker Diego Guajardo.
Lovertich was sacked twice and pressured all game long. The running game of the Jaguars accounted for 14 yards on the ground on 34 carries. Sophomore running back Carlos Davis accounted for his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season as he rushed for 105 yards on 17 carries. They were able to find more success on plays towards the outside as the Blazers defense was creating heavy pressure in-between the tackles. The Blazers defense accounted for eight tackles for loss.
Defensively, the Jaguars struggled to stop the dominating rushing game and the deep passing game of the Blazers. Blazers senior running back Spencer Brown rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. The Blazers accounted for 190 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 42 rushing attempts. The rushing game proved to be pivotal as the Blazers’ play-action game caused the Jaguars safeties to crash in as they were left defenseless when the defense allowed several deep passes.
The Blazers outgained the Jaguars in total yards accounted for in total yards 509-for-315. The Blazers were 10-for-16 on third-down conversions while the Jaguars were only 3-for-12 on third downs. Weakside linebacker Nick Mobley led the Jaguars in total tackles accounted for with nine. Outside linebacker Riley Cole accounted for nine total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. Cole was the only player for the Jaguars to account for a sack against the Blazers offense. Linebacker Chris Henderson accounted for five total tackles, three solo tackles, .5 tackles for loss, and two quarterback hurries.
The Jaguars (1-2) will start Sun Belt Conference play as well as face off against their in-state rivals in the Troy Trojans (1-0) this upcoming Saturday at 7 p.m. Central.