Tyrell Pearson's interception return with just more than two minutes left set up a 1-yard plunge by Trey Fetner that lifted South Alabama to a 31-24 win over visiting Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams Saturday night.
The Hilltoppers (1-2, 0-1) took a 21-10 lead in the first half but could only manage a field goal in the second half — that coming on a 44-yard boot to start the fourth quarter by Garrett Schwettman after the Jaguars tied the game at 21-21.
Aleem Sunanon kicked a 37-yard field goal two minutes later to tie the score at 24-24.
Ross Matheny completed 11 of 15 passes for 193 yards to lead South Alabama (2-1, 1-0).
Brandon Doughty was 27 of 47 for 282 yards and three touchdowns to lead Western Kentucky, but he was also intercepted three times.