BATON ROUGE, La. – Playing only a few miles from where he grew up, senior running back Johnta’ Hebert made a lasting impression in his final collegiate game in Louisiana as he totaled four touchdowns and 398 all-purpose yards as Prairie View A&M held off Southern 47-42 in a wild homecoming affair at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
A 64-yard pass on the second play of the game set up Southern’s first score but the PVAMU defense held on and only allowed a field goal as the Jaguars led 3-0 with 12:24 left. Both teams traded punts and PVAMU went to work offensively as Hebert and Trey Green worked PVAMU down the field but ran into trouble as PVAMU faced a 3rd-and-15 at the SU 26. On third down, Green placed the ball in a perfect position as Hebert caught a 26-yard touchdown pass for a 7-3 lead after the PAT. However, the momentum was short-lived as All-SWAC kick returner Willie Quinn made PVAMU pay as he took the ensuing kickoff in the back of the end zone and raced 100 yards for the touchdown and a 10-7 lead after the PAT with 5:22 remaining in the quarter.
It didn’t take long for PVAMU to respond as Green hit Hebert for a 37-yard pass on the first play of the next drive. Two plays later, Green connected with Fred Anderson on a 43-yard reception and Anderson scored from one yard out as the Panthers led 14-10 at the 3:30 mark. Once again though, Southern refused to go away as they only needed six plays to strike big as quarterback Austin Howard found Montrell Jones for a 17-yard touchdown reception and a 16-14 lead as the PAT rush attempt failed. PVAMU suffered a costly turnover at the end of the quarter as Green fumbled at the PVAMU 24. After completing a pass on the opening play, SU’s Malcolm Crockett rushed the ball three times followed by Howard’s 4-yard rush for a 23-14 lead following the PAT.
With the game slipping away, the Panthers dug deep on their next drive as they converted three consecutive third down plays to keep their drive alive. After converting on their third play and earning a first down, Hebert rushed 22 yards to the SU 15 followed by Green’s 10-yard run to the SU 5. De’Auntre Smiley got in on the act and scored from five yards out as PVAMU trailed 23-20 after Owen Hoolihan’s PAT.
Southern hit on a 52-yard pass play on its next drive to move into prime scoring territory at the PVAMU 2. However, the Panther defense rose to the occasion and stood ground as they stopped SU on four consecutive running plays to turn the ball over on downs. PVAMU had a promising scoring drive end late in the quarter after recovering a fumbled punt as Green’s pass was picked off in front of the end zone with 15 seconds left.
PVAMU punted on the opening possession of the third quarter and made a big defensive stop as Will Skinner forced a fumble that landed into the hands of Marquice O’Leary. However, the Panthers were forced to punt on their next drive but the defense returned the favor and forced SU to punt. The offense regained its groove on the next drive as PVAMU marched the down the field in six plays as Hebert made a difficult catch to move PVAMU ahead 27-23 after the PAT with 4:24 left in the third quarter.
Southern would find its offense on the next drive as Howard found a wide open Randall Menard for a 28-yard scoring strike and a 30-27 advantage. Prairie View A&M would make it to the SU 41 on the next drive and was on the verge of scoring once again but KhaDarel Hodge fumbled at the SU 8 after trying to pick up additional yardage after a 33-yard reception to end the third quarter.
The Panther defense held ground and the Jaguars’ special teams surrendered to the pressure of the PVAMU punt return team as SU’s Greg Pittman bobbled a punt which led to a Nick Brewer recovery at the 1. Smiley scored from one yard out as PVAMU led 34-30 early in the fourth quarter.
SU was forced to punt once again and the Panther offense marched all the way to the SU 14 before a third down sack pushed them back to the SU 22. PVAMU attempted a 39-yard field goal but it was blocked and landed into the hands of SU. However, SU attempted to advance the ball but fumbled and PVAMU received new life as they regained control of the ball at the SU 14. Facing a 3rd-and-10, Hebert ran a well-executed play and scored from 14 yards out as the Panthers had some much-needed breathing room at 40-30 with 6:07 left.
Southern charged back with an eight-play, 71-yard drive to move within a touchdown as Lenard Tillery rushed in from one yard out. Nick Brewer came up big with another blocked PAT as SU was out of field goal range en route to a 40-36 PVAMU lead.
Southern attempted to kick away from Hebert on the kickoff and Tommie Robins made them pay as he returned the kickoff 20 yards to the PVAMU 48. Hebert continued to be a thorn in SU’s side as he caught a 25-yard strike from Green on a key 3rd-and-10 and forced SU to burn all of its timeouts as PVAMU milked clock. With the ball on the SU 13 facing 3rd-and-8, Hebert’s name was called and made them pay as his 13-yard run made it a two-possession game once again after the PAT.
SU would score with no time remaining but it was too little too late as the Panthers ended their two-game losing streak to SU and won in Baton Rouge, La. for only the third time in 27 years.
Hebert was a one-man wrecking machine as he finished with 398 all-purpose yards. He had 114 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries and 170 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 10 receptions along with 114 kick return yards. Green passed for 339 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-37 passing while KhaDarel Hodge had a breakout game with five passes caught for 97 yards. Defensively, Will Skinner amassed 15 tackles and a forced fumble while Jalan Coleman finished with 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
The Panthers will have a much-needed off week on Oct. 24 before returning back to action on Oct. 31 versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Waller at 1 p.m.
Courtesy: PVAMU Athletics