Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EARLY MISCUES; Garrard Struggles in Loss

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EARLY MISCUES; Garrard Struggles in Loss

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

The Jaguars started slow and finished even slower in the first half Saturday night.

After giving up a 22-yard field goal in their first series, they fought the Carolina Panthers to a 3-3 standoff until the last 26 seconds of the first half.

The Panthers then scored two touchdowns in the last half-minute before halftime and went on to beat the Jaguars 17-10 in the second preseason game for both teams. The Jaguars are now 1-1 and the Panthers 2-0.

The most significant development of the game was that Byron Leftwich solidified his position as the team's starting quarterback, completing 4 of 4 passes in his second series and posting a 118.8 quarterback rating.

"That wasn't the issue [keeping his job]," Leftwich said. "I know who the quarterback of this football team [is]. It wasn't about tonight. This is the preseason. It's preseason, man."

Leftwich wasn't challenged by backup quarterback David Garrard.

In three series in the second quarter against the Carolina regulars, Garrard fumbled two snaps, overthrew Ernest Wilford with a pass that was intercepted and fumbled when defensive end Julius Peppers beat Mo Williams for a sack. Mike Rucker scooped up the ball and ran 31 yards for a touchdown with three seconds left.

Twenty-three seconds earlier, Nick Goings scored Carolina's first touchdown on a 1-yard run.

"It was a good defensive battle early," said Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. "At the end of the first half, I guess you could say we blinked. In an instant, the game broke open. That kind of marred a pretty solid start, not great, not spectacular, not fast like we'd like. The game got away from us at the end of the half.''

Garrard played one series in the third quarter against the Panthers' backups, but the drive ended with an interception in the end zone.

"A real tough night," Garrard said. …

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