ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Southern came out on top in an emotion and drama-filled contest as the Tigers knocked off Southern for the first time since 2010 in a 35-31 win at the Arlington Showdown on Saturday evening.
Southern would score on its opening possession as Kobe Dillon scored from 2 yards out but the TSU special teams unit made an important move that won’t show on the stat sheet as Calvin Henderson made a fair catch on a pooch kick which gave TSU the ball at its own 37. TSU quickly went to work as Andrew Body and Kevin Harris both broke off long runs which moved TSU deep into SU territory. Jyrin Johnson caught an 11-yard pass from Body to move into the redzone and Jacorey Howard scored on an 11-yard run for a 7-6 margin. TSU went for two and came up short but an SU targeting call gave them another shot and Richard Garcia III hit the PAT for a 7-7 tie.
After a quick offensive outburst by both teams, the defensive units showed up as the remainder of the quarter saw all drives end in punts. TSU opened the second quarter with a promising drive but fumbled at its 48. However, the TSU defense overcame the offensive mishap and forced another SU punt but the ensuing offensive drive stalled as TSU turned the ball over on downs at the SU 41.
Southern rode the legs of Devon Benn and Dillon as they combined for 57 yards on the ground during its next drive. SU made it to the TSU 2 but Benn fumbled and the ball was recovered by Malachi Mitchell to the TSU 13. TSU would punt again and SU had a shot to move ahead but missed a 41-yard field goal with 3:36 left. The Tigers finally got things going late in the quarter as Howard hurt SU with big plays in both the passing and running games to move TSU to the SU 41. Body connected with Tavaris Achane for a big 18-yard pass which set up Ladarius Owens’ 19-yard touchdown run with 1:10 left for a 14-7 lead after the PAT. However, Southern responded and made it to the TSU 28 as Luke Jackson connected on a 45-yard field goal for a 14-10 TSU lead the half.
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TSU came out the gate firing to open the third quarter as Body found Ke’Lenn Davis for a 44-yard strike which set Owens’ 2-yard score and a 21-10 lead after the PAT. Unfortunately, the momentum died quickly as SU opened its drive with a one-play, 65-yard run by Marquis McClain to draw within 21-17. TSU’s next drive saw the ball turned over on downs and SU used a mix of the run and pass to move ahead 24-21 on a 4-yard touchdown run from Benn.
Owens opened TSU’s next drive with a 37-yard run and also caught a 21-yard pass from Body to move TSU to the SU 43. An SU penalty moved the ball to the SU 11 and Body combined to rush for 10 yards to set up Howard’s 1-yard touchdown run and a 28-24 TSU lead following Garcia III’s PAT.
Southern saw its next drive stall after a missed field goal and TSU had a chance to put an early dagger in SU as Body found fellow freshman Savion Sims in one-on-one coverage for a huge 43-yard play. However, the Tigers committed a costly fumble at the SU 1 which came back to haunt them as SU scored a touchdown to regain a 31-28 lead at the 8:01 mark.
TSU’s next drive stalled and was forced to punt as SU got the ball back with 5:05 left. SU leaned on its running game for nearly every play on the ensuing drive to eat clock and force TSU to use timeouts. SU marched its own 44 and found itself in a 4th-and-1 situation. Quarterback Glendon McDaniel was stopped short of the first down but a wild scene would ensue as both SU and TSU forced the officials to take a hard look at the spot of the ball which saw both teams hold brief celebrations thinking they had possession of the ball.
TSU would ultimately win the challenge and the offense came out clicking as Body found Davis for a 10-yard strike to open the next drive. After two rushes, Body hit Davis again on a 6-yard first down play but Owens was stopped a yard back with 55 seconds left and second down looming.
After a TSU timeout, Body surveyed the field on 2nd-and-11 and took matters into his own hands as he rushed 21 yards to the SU 4. Jacorey Howard scored again for a 35-31 TSU lead following the PAT with 39 seconds left.
SU refused to go away as they marched to the 31 with seven seconds left but Josh Murray picked the potential game-winning pass off at the TSU 12 for the big win.
Body had a strong game as he was 28-of-35 for 338 yards and rushed for 85 yards on 13 attempts. Jacorey Howard scored three times while Owens added two scores. Davis caught six passes for 98 yards while Ja’Corey Benjamin led all tacklers with nine stops followed by seven each from Tarik Cooper and Tyler Martinez.
Courtesy: Texas Southern Athletics