Prairie View A&M dropped its home opener in disappointing fashion as Southern University jumped out to a 34-10 third quarter lead and thwarted a fourth quarter Panther comeback as they claimed a 34-24 win on Saturday night at Blackshear Field before a capacity crowd.
The Jaguars wasted no time in quieting the raucous Panther crowd as Lenard Tillery scored from 36 yards out on their first drive of the first quarter for a 7-0 lead following Greg Pittman’s PAT. Nothing would go right for the Panthers following the score as they had several special teams mishaps which led to short field position for SU. Despite the mishaps, the Panther defense held its ground but the Jaguars struck big on the defensive end as Bryan Anderson picked off Jerry Lovelovke and set up a 39-yard field goal from Greg Pittman with 2:26 in the first quarter for a 10-0 lead.
Early in the second stanza, the Panthers finally had an offensive possession that meant something as Lovelocke connected with Nick Pitre for a 4-yard touchdown pass at the 14:12 mark. Chris Barrick’s PAT was good as the Panthers trailed 14-7.
Both teams traded three-and-outs from that point but SU returned to the endzone midway through the quarter as quarterback Austin Howard rushed in from 4 yards out to cap off a seven-play, 68-yard drive. The Panthers responded with a field goal on the ensuing possession to trail 17-10 but the special teams bug struck again as Willie Quinn raced 98 yards on the kickoff return for a touchdown and a 24-10 lead after the PAT. The Panthers drove down to the SU 24 on their last drive of the half but the Jaguars killed the momentum with an interception before the half.
Southern opened the second half with a nine-play, 59-yard drive to jump ahead 31-10 and tacked on a 29-yard field goal from Pittman to lead 34-10 with 6:39 left in the third quarter. The contest turned into a battle of the punters from that point with three straight punts to close out the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, the offensive finally found a groove as running back Johnta’ Hebert rushed for a 61-yard touchdown to draw the Panthers within 34-17 at the 14:50 mark.
After an SU missed field goal, the Panther offense continued to click as freshman Arthur Lockett scored on a 31-yard touchdown run for a 34-24 deficit after the PAT. The Panther defense played inspired and forced an SU punt late and the offense raced to the red zone in nine plays before a pair of untimely holding penalties saw the offense faced with a 1st-and-30.
The offense made it back to the SU 14 on a 19-yard run by Lovelocke to set up a manageable fourth down decision by the coaching staff. The staff opted to roll the dice on fourth down and almost hit the jackpot but Lovelocke’s pass to Pitre in the endzone was tipped by an SU defender.
SU punted once again and the Panthers had one last desperation drive but it ended in disappointing fashion as Lovelocke was sacked at the SU 28.
The Panthers finished with 475 offensive yards (244P, 231 R) compared to SU’s 303 yards. Hebert finished with 133 yards on 21 carries while Lovelocke tallied 244 yards on 29-of-47 passing. Greg Thurmond caught eight passes for 72 yards while Jerome Howard finished with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss.
Courtesy: Prairie View Sports Information