Jacksonville State didn’t disappoint the more than 14,000 in attendance last Saturday for the game against #17 Tennessee State; well not the Gamecock fans anyway.
Last week the Gamecocks couldn’t overcome the turnovers they gave away. This week the same thing may have opened the door for the Tigers to receive their first loss of the season. Entering the game, TSU had won nine straight games going back to last season.
Their last loss was to JSU in 2011, and the Gamecocks were ready to repeat.
On TSU’s first drive Tiger QB Michael German was picked off by freshman Jermaine Hough to begin the momentum for JSU.
Running back Washuan Ealey led the drive inside the five, but it was freshman Troymaine Pope who crossed the goal line on his two yard TD run to give JSU a 7-0 lead with 10:32 left in the first.
Later in the first, TSU tied the game on a 19 yard TD pass. Early in the second quarter Jax State was driving and soon regained the lead when senior QB Marques Ivory found Ealey in the flat with space around him. The pass wasn’t very long, but Ealey did the rest, taking it in from 44 yards out for the score, 14-7 JSU.
TSU’s following drive was less than three minutes and the Tigers again tied the game.
Tennessee State had a 21-14 lead and was looking to expand their lead just before the half. With 18 second remaining the Tigers completed a pass to JSU’s 18 but without any timeouts the clock expired before the Tigers could get a field goal off- ironic huh?
The Gamecocks responded in the second half owning the third quarter putting up 14 points to regain the lead. Washuan Ealey capped JSU’s opening drive with an eight-yard touchdown run and Coty Blanchard gave the Gamecocks the lead when he scrambled inside the 10 and found the endzone.
In the fourth, TSU tied the game with just over nine minutes left. On JSU’s next drive, the Gamecocks fumbled a toss exchange and the Tigers recovered in JSU territory, primed to score late in the game. However, the Gamecock defense stood tall as they did all day against an explosive offense, and on the first play Jermaine Hough snatched his second INT of the game after grabbing his first career interception in the first quarter.
Tennessee State got the ball back and was driving as time melted away. With four seconds left the Tigers attempted a 42-yard field goal to win. The kick went through the uprights and stopped about 10,000 hearts before an illegal motion penalty negated the kick. Pushed back to 47 yards, the following kick was missed wide right by only a foot or two.
JSU went to overtime for the first time since they did so in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta against Georgia State in 2010. The Gamecocks won the toss and deferred.
After the defense held strong, TSU missed another field goal, this time to the left. The Gamecock offense took the field with a chance to knock off an unbeaten. Ealey drove the ball, but after Blanchard was sacked on third down JSU was back to the 27.
Griffen Thomas came out for the game winner. The junior from Snellville, GA nailed it from 44 yards out for his second game-winning field goal of the season.
Even leaving early with a hamstring injury, Ivory led the passing game with 187 yards with a TD on 11/17 passing. Ealey was the main offensive threat, leading rushing and passing with 190 total yards and 2 TDs.
Jermaine Hough had a huge defensive day including both interceptions that came at critical times for JSU. Sophomore linebacker Ben Endress was also key as usual, with his eight tackles and two sacks.