BY MICHAEL LEESE
Game three of my cross country journey found me in the deep south in Mobile Alabama for this highly anticipated showdown between South Alabama and Mississippi State. The game was a huge event for the City of Mobile and the Jaguars who were able to lure the SEC opponent to town. A sold out Ladd Peebles stadium was center stage, as fans from both schools flooded the tailgating areas on a sweltering, hot humid day! South Alabama plays all of there home games at the 40,646 seat stadium. Ladd Peebles stadium is also host for the Go Daddy.com Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
Ladd Peebles Stadium was Opened in 1948, the first event held inside the stadium was a college football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Vanderbilt Commodores on October 2, 1948. The stadium also lives in Alabama Crimson Tide football folklore as the site of legendary head coach Bear Bryant first game in charge of the Crimson Tide. The South Alabama administration has high hopes to break ground on a brand new on campus stadium in the near future.
A PROGRAM TAKES FLIGHT……On December 6, 2007, the university’s Board of Trustees approved the addition of football to the intercollegiate athletics program. Joey Jones was hired by the university to launch the football program. Jones was an easy fit for the job as he was a local high school football star, who went onto have a great career as a wide receiver at the University of Alabama. He was an All-SEC performer and later went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons!
On September 5, 2009, the University of South Alabama Jaguars defeated Hargrave Military Academy 30-13 in the program’s first ever game in front of more than 26,000 fans. The team completed its first season undefeated at 7-0, outscoring its opponents by a combined score of 321-41. The 2011 season marked the beginning of South Alabama’s 2-year transition phase from Division I to FBS status. The Jaguars played as a FCS Independent for the 2011 season.
The Jaguars became a full fledged member of the Sun Belt Conference in 2013. Jones has put together a team that is highly regarded and primed for an outstanding season.
TRADITION……The # 5 Tradition is something that is built over time. South Alabama is in the beginning stages of developing what they hope to be a long standing history. Two things stand out to Jaguar fans. A tradition that started in South Alabama’s second season, following the death of running back Anthony Mostella, Coach Joey Jones selects a senior that “earned it” would be given Mostella’s #5 jersey for the season. A fan favorite, Mostella was known for his leadership and hard work ethic. Coach Joey Jones wanted to pay respect to Mostella by giving his #5 jersey to a senior each season that displayed the leadership skills and work ethic that Mostella portrayed.
FIRST DOWN CHANT…..After each first down gains by the South Alabama Jaguars’ football team, the Public Address announcer typically booms out: “Annnnd that’s another South Alabama…” followed by thousands of fans rising from the Ladd-Peebles Stadium bleachers with their forefingers pointing upward in the air, completing the sentence loudly with the words: “FIRST DOWN!!!”. This is known as “the first down” chant to most Jaguars football fans.
THE GAME……A fired up home team came out strong in the first quarter, playing toe to toe with the Bullogs. The Bulldogs closed the first quarter with a 7-0 lead on a Malcolm Johnson 15 yard reception from Dak Prescott. Aleem Sunanon cut the lead to 7-3 with a 26 yard field goal. That proved to be the only scoring for the Jaguars, as a stout Bulldog defense held them scoreless the rest of the way. Prescott was the difference as the dual threat quarterback was nearly flawless as he passed for 201 yards and rushed for an additional 139. The win by the Bulldogs moved them to 3-0 and sets the stage for a monster road game at LSU this Saturday. The loss drops South Alabm