For the second consecutive week in a row, Jacksonville State won on the final play of the game in overtime.
This week the Gamecocks only used one extra period and finished the job as soon as Georgia State slipped up. DaMarcus James punched the ball in from a few yards out for his third rushing touchdown of the day to seal the win for JSU, 32-26.
On the opening play of the game GSU’s QB Ronnie Bell hit receiver Albert Wilson who took the ball all the way for a 75-yard touchdown reception with only 13 ticks off the scoreboard. The following PAT was missed and was thought to not matter much at the moment with 59 minutes remaining in the game, but would later prove huge.
JSU would outplay the newest members of the Sun Belt for the next three quarters starting with a Pierre Warren fumble recovery that was returned inside the Panther’s one-yard line. DaMarcus James would pound the ball in for the score on a direct snap and Griffin Thomas’ extra point gave the Gamecocks a 7-6 lead.
Georgia State added a FG later in the quarter, but two second quarter touchdowns by Jax State including a five-yard run by Eli Jenkins with ten seconds remaining until halftime, sent the Gamecocks into the Georgia Dome locker rooms with a 20-9 lead.
After a FG in the third, Jacksonville State had the game in hand heading to the fourth leading 23-9, but deep in their own territory the Gamecocks made a mistake and let a Panther through the protection line on a Hamish McInnes punt that was blocked and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. It was exactly one minute and two seconds later that a GSU TD pass, which came on the heels of a lost fumble by JSU on the kickoff, made the score tied at 23 with 12:00 to play.
A week prior Thomas hit five field goals and was the hero, but with just under three minutes to play it looked like it would only take two to be the hero this week as a 34-yarder sailed through to give JSU a 26-23 lead.
However, as has happened before with Alabama State and North Alabama, the Gamecocks allowed a final drive on defense to threaten holding on for the win. The Panthers made it inside JSU’s ten yard line, but the Gamecocks were able to keep GSU out of the end zone and force a FG as time ran out and sent the game to overtime.
In overtime it was almost a repeat of a week ago when a missed FG by the opponent set gave way for the Gamecocks to take the win. As JSU came out for its first offensive possession after getting to start on defense first, it only took a few plays before James pounded in his third touchdown of the afternoon. Jax State won 32-26 knocking off their first FBS opponent since beating Ole Miss in 2010.
While this win wasn’t as Earth-shaking as the Ole Miss one, it does put Jacksonville State at 4-0 which JSU hasn’t been since that very 2010 season.
Eli Jenkins got the start at quarterback and went a perfect 5/5 passing, but it was Max Shortell who led the way with his 263 yards on 13/27 passing. Josh Barge had a breakout game with eight receptions for 124 yards and it was Miles Jones who had the most rushing yards at 76 although James pounded the ball in for the three scores.
After the win the Gamecocks have now won six straight games that have gone into overtime, two of the games include both times JSU has played in the Dome against GSU. Griffin Thomas’ two field goals gives him 22 for his caree which ties him for seventh on the school’s all0time list tied with Ashley Kay, and Thomas’ predecessor, James Esco.
Jacksonville State remains unranked but sets its focus more on opening OVC play this Saturday at home against Murray State, a team that JSU has beaten in nine straight meetings.