USA quarterback Myles Gibbon scores on 8-yard run
Poise. Patience. The ability to regroup after adversity.
These are all the things that make veteran football teams special. And that’s why it was even more special watching a team playing its first-ever college football game display those qualities and more.
Final score: University of South Alabama 30, Hargrave Military Academy 13 in front of almost 30,000 people at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Welcome to college football Jags.
“I challenged the kids about making this a day to remember,” said USA Head Coach Joey Jones.
“The kids just kept fighting. We were a little tight to begin with, but they just kept fighting.”
Someone who wasn’t tight was wide receiver Courtney Smith.
The UAB transfer from New Orleans had 5 catches for 104 yards, including a sweet 60-yard TD catch from freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon to get the scoring started near the end of the first quarter.
“Courtney is a big-time player,” said Jones.
Gibbon, who finished 7-of-13 for 126 yards, the lone TD toss and an interception says the ingredients for success that he and Smith have are pretty simple.
“I’ve got an arm, and Courtney has big legs and big hands,” he said.
Gibbon also chipped in with an 8-yard TD run, while the Jags got 139 yards rushing and two TDs from running back Brandon Ross and a 25-yard field goal from Michael Chapuseaux to cap the scoring.
Hargrave (1-1) got TD runs of 16-yards Tahron Goods and a 35-yard pass reception by Sean Farr from quarterback Evan Ingram.
USA’s defense, led by linebacker Justin Dunn with 8 total tackles, kept the Tigers offense on the run all day.
“They got after them,” said Jones of the defensive effort.
“We’ve got some things to work on, but we’ll get them corrected.”
First things first
Ok, so this is what history looks like, huh? The first-ever football game for the University of South Alabama.
And what a program-opening performance it was, beating up on Hargrave pretty good, despite them having some of the largest people you may ever see in this world.
But for a first game it was also a game of firsts on a lot of fronts. Here are some of those first-time happenings that will go down in USA history … because they will never, ever, happen again:
1:58 P.M. First sighting of retired USA Athletic Director Joe Gottfried (who is the man most instrumental in this day coming to fruition) in a McDonald’s parking lot at Grelot and Hillcrest Roads before making his way on to the game;
3:39 P.M. First politician sighting (Hey! Where there's almost 30,000 people in one place at one time, you will find politicians) … Mobile Mayor Sam Jones, the Mobile City Council and County Commission;
3:40 First Azalea Trail Maid sighting (They're everywhere. I didn’t think they’d wait to show up this late.);
3:41 First USA marching band sighting (And an impressive band it is!);
3:48 First singing of the national anthem;
3:51 First United States Coast Guard helicopter fly-over (Damn, that thing was low!!!);
3:58 First coin toss by a college president (USA’s Gordon Moulton);
3:59 First USA team “run-out” of the tunnel to adoring fans;
4:03 First kickoff;
4:06 First 3rd-down stop (Hargrave’s Alex Owah fumbles after being tackled for 1-yard loss by Alex Phifer, who recovers for USA);
4:07 First wasted time out by a confused opponent (Hargrave for whatever reason called a TO at 12:54 of first quarter);
4:09 First penalty (even though it was BS), a roughing the punter call against USA;
4:12 First Jags offensive play (a 16-yard Brandon Ross run to the USA 49);
4:13 First USA fumble (Gibbon recovers own muff on shotgun snap);
4:13.05 First grimace by a guy in the press box claiming to be a scout for the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos there to watch Montreal native Gibbon;
4:15 First “second wasted time” out by a confused opponent (6:38 of the first quarter … even stranger than the first time out);
4:30 First Jags 4th-down failure (Gibbon misses wide open receiver Kevin Helms);
4:35 First USA touchdown, AND first-ever touchdown pass (60 yards from Gibbon to Courtney Smith);
5:55 (And just in case you’re interested) First score by an opponent, 16-yard TD run by Tahron Goods midway the third quarter;
5:58 First press box announcement of first official attendance (26,783);
6:05 First answer to an opponent’s scoring drive (25-yard Mike Chapuseaux field goal at 2:52 of the 3rd quarter after Hargrave’s first touchdown);
6:34 First proverbial “nail in the coffin” when Ross scored on a 22-yard TD run to cap a 4-play, 48-yard drive (following a Jerron Mitchell interception) to make it 30-13 with 6:04 to play.