With Southern being battered and falling into a 26-point hole in the first half of the SWAC Championship Game, Eric Dooley — in a desperate situation — turned to an old reliable.
Bubba McDaniel, who had a roller-coaster career at Southern and was the third-string quarterback against Jackson State, was inserted to provide a spark for what had been a sputtering offense for nearly the first two quarters.
Playing in this final collegiate game, McDaniel, rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 220 yards in the Jaguars’ 43-24 loss to Jackson State Saturday night.
The senior saw time only after starter BeSean McCray and backup Harold Blood combined for minus-3 yards passing, 15 rushing yards and three turnovers.
“Sometimes you can say it was a bad start, I thought their defense played well,” Dooley told the media after the game. “They’ve (Jackson State) been No. 1 and did some things that caused us some problems. You can’t turn the football over on a good team and think you have a chance. They still fought to the end and I commend my players.”
While McDaniel didn’t expect to play against JSU, he stayed ready to contribute, especially when Southern got off to a rough start.
“Ride for me because I’m going to ride for them, and don’t look at the scoreboard because it don’t matter,” said McDaniel about his message to the offense. “We have to put our heads down and play, leave it all out on the field.”
Southern outscored Jackson State 24-17 after McDaniel entered the game and tallied 415 yards — the highest total of any opponent against the Tigers — all season.
“Once I saw where things were going, sometimes you have to go with experience,” Dooley said of his decision to play McDaniel. “He’s been there, done that and understands what it took. He always stays ready.”