In South Alabama’s last five games before Saturday, you could’ve plugged in the name of any opponent and the game story would’ve probably read the same … too much offense and a stingy, virtually unyielding defense equals a resounding Jaguars win.
In the process, USA had averaged a mind-blowing 44.2 points per game, while allowing opponents just 5.4 an outing.
Do not attempt to adjust your eyes. That really does read 5.4 points per game.
Enter Milford (N.Y.) Academy as the latest sacrificial lamb to trot into Ladd-Peebles Stadium in the Jag’s inaugural season and nothing had changed.
A festive homecoming crowd of just over 15,000 watched unbeaten South Alabama roll up 375 total yards on the ground, and Clifton Crews returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown … his third of run-back for a score this season … as the Jags shot down the Falcons, 64-12.
“It was a big win, again’” said USA Head Coach Joey Jones. “This was one of the best teams we’ll play … but we threw the ball real well and ran the ball real well.”
Starting quarterback Myles Gibbon and back-up Brennan Sim took turns engineering scoring drives that produced a 47-12 lead at the break.
En route, Brandon Ross ran for two scores … his team-leading 10th and 11th touchdowns of the season … Sim found Courtney Smith on a 73-yard scoring strike, Anthony Mostella added a short TD run, Eli Smith scored on an 8-yard jaunt, Michael Chapuseaux kicked a 25-yard field goal and the defense recorded a safety.
Gibbon also had 59 yards rushing and scored on a 14-yard run in the first half before leaving with an ankle injury late in the second quarter.
“We don’t know the extent of his injury right now. We’ll know more tomorrow,” said Jones.
Sim, who finished with 90-yards through the air on just 2-of-3 passing, finished out the game splitting time with Nick Owens and Gabe Graham, but said he “felt bad” when he saw Gibbon go down.
USA capped the scoring with another Chapuseaux field goal, this one from 39-yards out, Crews' return for a score and Ryan Scott’s one-yard run.
If there were any negatives to USA’s sixth dominating performance of the season it came in the form of eight penalties for 89 yards, including several 15-yard personal foul calls … an almost unheard of lack of poise by the usually cool-headed Jags.
Jones vowed to clean that up during USA’s short week of preparation for Thursday night’s 6 o'clock finale at Ladd against Huntingdon College.
“That was too many personal fouls,” he said. “We can’t have that and be a good team.”
Otherwise Jones said he was pleased with what he saw, even though … again … it came against an opponent that was thoroughly outmanned.
“We have certain fundamentals we hold dear to,” he said. “When we watch the film we watch those fundamentals the fundamentals always win.”
Even injuries along the offensive that forced some changes this week couldn’t stop the Jags’ assault.
“We all rotate positions in practice,” said Brian Krauskopf, who found out earlier this week he’d be making his first start along the offensive line.
He also said having the kind of runners to block for, like the mercurial but powerful Ross, was a pleasure.
“Brandon’s just a freak back there,” said Krauskopf.
Austin Baker scored both TDs for Milford (7-4), hauling in scoring passes of 30 and 7 yards from quarterback Mark Giubilato.
Jones said his team goes into Thursday’s finale on a good note and with a good stride.
“They’ve made so much progress from the spring to the fall,” he said.