NEW ORLEANS, LA. -- Ladarius Skelton passed for two touchdowns and Southern's defense blocked a field goal with five seconds remaining to clinch the 2019 SWAC Western Division title in a 30-28 victory over Grambling State in the 46th Annual Bayou Classic in front of a crowd of 68,314 fans.
The Jaguars (8-4, 6-1) fell behind 21-3 in the second quarter. Trailing by 18 points Ladarius Skelton led SU down the field and found Hunter Register in the end zone to close the lead 21-10 with 3:38 left to play in the first half. After the Jaguars defense was able to force a stop, SU marched down the field and scored right before halftime to cut the lead 21-17.
With momentum on their side SU came out in the third quarter and Ladarius Skelton and Hunter Register were able to link up once again in the end zone as the Jaguars took their first lead 24-21 with 4:40 left to play in the third quarter. Southern was able score 21 unanswered points in two quarters. GSU scored a touchdown to put the Tigers back up 28-24 with 14:56 left in the fourth quarter. On the next drive with 14:11 left in the game, Jared Sims ripped off a 36-yard scamper to give the Jaguars a 30-28 lead. New Orleans native Senior Joe Davis blocked what would have been the game winning field goal with :05 left to play to help secure the win for Southern.
Freshman Jarad Sims led the Jaguars in rushing, carrying the ball seven times for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Ladarius Skelton finished the night going 18-of-25 passing with 181 yards and two touchdown passes. Both Touchdowns went to Hunter Register who led the Jaguars with seven catches for 75 yards. Devon Benn added 66 yards off eleven carries.
The Southern defense held its ground in the second half led by senior linebacker Calvin Lunkins with 11 tackles and two QB hurries, “We made some mistakes, but at the end of the day we came out with a win,” linebacker Calvin Lunkins said. “We just had to lock in on our assignments and execute at a high level. Caleb Carter and Montavius Gaines finished the night with nine stops each. Carter added one sack for a seven-yard loss, a forced fumble and two tackles for a loss. Senior Joe Davis came up big with two blocked field goals in the game but the biggest one came with five seconds left in the game. Davis burst through Grambling's line to block what would have been the game-winning field goal for the Tigers. “Dakavion Champion got some push and I got my pads up,” said Davis, “He got the lineman off balance and I just used my frame to block it. I knew I had a chance to get it because I got the first one.
Quarterback Ladarius Skelton was named the 2019 Bayou Classic MVP for Southern, which marks back to back as he was named the 2018 Bayou Classic MVP. Southern has won seven of its last eight games.
The Jaguars will travel to Lorman, MS for the second straight year to face off with the Alcorn Braves for the Cricket Wireless SWAC Football Championship. The winner will head to the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, GA and will take on the MEAC Champion, North Carolina A&T. The SWAC Championship game will air live on ESPNU and will broadcast live on KQXL, 106.5 with Chris Powers. Kickoff is set for 3 PM on December 7th.
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