South Alabama was down 33-0 with with 12 minutes to play in the third quarter and scored 25 unanswered points to mount a comeback that ultimately ended at Kent State 20 yard line as time expired on the final play.
The Jaguars couldn't get out from behind the eight ball in the first half, plagued by turnovers, poor field position, an inability by the defense to get off the field on third down and a roughing the punter call that turned KSU's second drive from a 3 and out into their first TD of the game. South Alabama
never seemed to recover the first half momentum from that point.
After a quick turnover to start the second half which resulted in Kent State
's final score, something for the Jaguars clicked. The defense began to dominate forcing 5 three and outs in the second half to give the offense a chance. Jake Johnson led the effort with 17 total tackles. The offense began to establish the running game, something it was unable to do in the first half, on its way to 25 second half points.
There is so much to be proud of in the second half and so many big plays both offensively and defensively that almost led to such an improbable comeback. Jake Johnson forced a timely fumble early in the third that really helped capture the momentum and lead to a field goal. On the Jags next drive, C.J. Bennett found Jereme Jones in the end zone from 9 yards out on fourth and goal to make the score 33-17 just before the end of the third quarter to giving USA the confidence to make a fourth quarter run.
South Alabama would add another TD and a 2-point conversion, but failed to reach pay dirt on its last two drives.
While a win would have been monumental as the first FBS win in school history, the effort by South Alabama today was huge and it will pay dividend in the long run as this program continues to grow and moves into the bulk of its schedule and Sun Belt Conference play in 2012.