NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - The Saints' streak of season-opening losses extended to five in a row, thanks in part to a South Mississippi standout. Former Stone and MGCCC defensive back Justin Evans scored his first NFL touchdown on a 34-yard scoop-and-score in the second quarter Sunday, helping lead his Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 48-40 victory.
“(I was) just trying to run to the ball and when I was getting off the block I (saw) it pop out," Evans told WLOX. "I didn’t know if the runner was down or not, so I just scooped it and went for the touchdown, it ended up being a fumble. First touchdown - I’m always grateful.”
The play didn’t put smiles on the faces of any Saints fans, who were down two scores at that point in the game, but it was a happy time for Justin’s friends and family in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, wearing their number 21 jerseys with pride.
“It was exciting. I was in the endzone and it looked like he was running towards me with the football," Justin’s uncle George Breland said. "I just started jumping up around all the Saints fans. They were wondering why I was jumping, I said that’s my nephew, that’s my nephew!”
From not having a single offer from a four-year school to becoming the highest-drafted Bulldog in program history, Evans continues to beat the odds. His family doesn’t want to miss a single moment of the journey.
“We watched him play in high school, junior college at Mississippi Gulf Coast, and he went to Texas A&M for two years. We followed him there and it just progressed," Breland said. "We like traveling as a family and we just go to all the games we can.”
“It’s a great feeling," Evans said of his support system. "They’re, what, 50 minutes away (from New Orleans)? An hour away? It’s just great to know that they’re out there watching me. I’m just so blessed, man.”
As Evans' professional career continues, his uncle says that he embraces being a role model for South Mississippi youth.