JACKSONVILLE, Ala. — The Jacksonville State Gamecocks have maintained their top 10 ranking as they head into their sixth game of the season. JSU is ranked 8th in both the FCS Coaches Poll and in The Sports Network Poll. They look to maintain that top 10 ranking as they travel to Nashville Saturday to take on Tennessee State.
Since it’s been a while since I have been able to update each week, here are some brief reviews of the past five games.
In game one, the Gamecocks traveled to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the Michigan State Spartans. This was coach John Grass’ debut as the new head coach. JSU held MSU to 45 points in the 45-7 loss. The one touchdown came in the third quarter when backup quarterback Max Shortell threw a 9-yard pass to Markis Merrill. JSU finished the game with 222 passing yards, 22 rushing yards, had 244 total offensive yards and had the ball for 21:55.
Game two of the 2014 season ended in exciting fashion. Ranked ninth in the nation, JSU traveled north to Chattanooga, Tenn. to take on the then 13th ranked Chattanooga Mocs. The Gamecocks led at the half 17-14 with 265 total yards at the end of the first half. Both JSU and Chattanooga would tie the game at 20-20 and would go into overtime. In OT, Chattanooga’s kicker Henrique Ribeiro kicked a 29-yard field goal to give the Mocs their only lead of the entire game. JSU didn’t take long to score on their possession in OT with quarterback Eli Jenkins with a quarterback draw for 13 yards to pick up the touchdown and the Gamecocks’ first win of the season and Coach Grass’ first win as head coach. JSU finished the game with 285 rushing yards, 124 passing yards with 409 total yards on offense and had the ball 31:27 on the time of possession. Senior Running back Demarcus James scored one touchdown against the Mocs which added to his career rushing touchdown number to 36 and became third in JSU history. Final Score: JSU 26 Chattanooga 23 (OT).
The following week after Chattanooga was an off week for JSU.
After the open week, JSU welcomed an old in-state rival to Burgess-Snow Field for their home opener. It has been 22 years since JSU and the Division II Gulf South Conference West Alabama Tigers have played each other. Both were big rivals when Jacksonville State was a Division II team and in the Gulf South Conference. Backup quarterback Max Shortell threw two touchdown passes to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Josh Barge along with completing a 14-yard touchdown pass from third-team redshirt junior quarterback Christian LeMay. Starting quarterback Eli Jenkins threw and 88-yard touchdown pass to Markis Merrill in the first period of play. This was the first time in the program’s history where three quarterbacks threw touchdowns in a game. West Alabama’s longest scoring drive of the game was 3 plays for 67-yards and quarterback Kyle Caldwell topped it off with the first UWA touchdown of the day which followed by three more during the game for the Tigers. Fast forward to the fourth quarter, Junior cornerback Jermaine Hough intercepted Kyle Caldwell’s pass and ran it back for a touchdown giving JSU a 45-14 lead. UWA narrowed the score margin by scoring three touchdowns in 10 minutes. In this game, Carrollton, Ga. native Josh Barge had a new career high with 3 receiving touchdowns, DeMarcus James added his 37th career touchdown and junior running backs Troymaine Pope and Miles Jones gained more than 100 rushing yards for the Gamecocks.
Final Score: JSU 45 West Alabama 34.
September 27, 2014. Murray, Ky. Jacksonville State opens up Ohio Valley Conference play against the Murray State Racers. JSU was 2-1 coming into this game and the Racers were 1-3. A few Gamecock players set some career highs and making their way up in the record book during this game. Sophomore quarterback Eli Jenkins had career highs in pass completions as he went 15-for-20, rushing yards with 149 and passing yards with 180. Senior running back DeMarcus James ran for 148 yards on 26 carries which moved his name up some of the lists in the record book. James also tied Boyce Callahan at second for touchdowns in JSU history and this was his 15th 100 rushing yard game that broke the Division I record which was previously held by Clay Green. Josh Barge had six catches for 92 yards during this game along with seven other Gamecocks catching at least one pass during the night. JSU allowed Murray State 289 yards in the first half and 71 in the second half with senior linebacker Ben Endress leading the Gamecock defense with 10 total tackles. This was the 10th win of the last 11 meetings between JSU and Murray State.
Final Score: JSU 52 Murray State 28
The Gamecocks came back home for their second home game of the season and continued OVC play facing the Skyhawks of Tennessee-Martin on October 4. JSU with three wins under their belt added another win over UTM. Eli Jenkins threw two touchdowns in the win over UTM. Junior running back Miles Jones had 24 carries for 150 yards which was a career high and Troymaine Pope had 97 yards rushing which was a part of the Gamecocks’ 284 total rushing yards. Eli Jenkins two touchdown passes that consisted of 26 yards and 12 yards. Backup quarterback Max Shortell had a 34-yard touchdown pass as he went 10-for-13 in the passing department. UTM’s only points in the first half came on a fumble recovery. JSU scored first on the possession of the game and was in control from there on and scored two more times before halftime. Junior Linebacker Dawson Wells and redshirt Sophomore Jaylen Hill had interceptions for JSU. JSU’s total offensive yards was 497 with 284 rushing yards and 213 passing yards.
Final Score: JSU 38 UT-Martin 14
Jacksonville State rolls out to the Music City this weekend to take on the Tennessee State Tigers. Tennessee State (4-2, 1-1 OVC), is coming off a 28-21 loss to Southeast Missouri. TSU thus far on the season has scored a total of 172 points and has only allowed their opponents score 82. On the ground the Tigers have racked up 1,028 yards along with 1,226 yards in the air totaling 2,254 yards on offense. Coach John Grass says that this will be a challenging game for his Gamecocks against Tennessee State.
“I think it’s very challenging every time you play them. Their personnel are very good and they are very basic, but schematically they are very sound. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. I think they are as good as anybody in the country defensively. I felt like last year, they were the best defense that we played all year long and I stand by that statement. I feel like they will be as good as anyone that we will play this year. We will have our work cut out for us this week. If there was one game last year that we weren’t as physical and did not win the line of scrimmage, this was the game. They controlled the line of scrimmage and it’s a helpless feeling when you get put in that situation. We have to challenge our guys to be as physical as we have been this year. I think the team that is physical and can control the line of scrimmage will win this ball game.”
Thus far on the season JSU has scored a total of 168 points with 1,310 rushing yards, 1,097 passing yards and 2,407 total offensive yards.
JSU and Tennessee State are scheduled to kickoff at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday October 11 in Nashville and can be heard on the Jacksonville State Gamecock Sports Network flagship stations WLJS-FM 91.9 and WVOK-FM 97.9, www.jsugamecocksports.com, and on the TuneIn Radio app by searching WLJS.