For a school record third consecutive week, Jacksonville State had a tied scored at the end of regulation and was heading for overtime. However, for the first time this season, it wouldn’t end on a positive note for the Gamecocks.
After forcing overtime on a 25-yard field goal by Griffin Thomas as time expired to tie the game at 27, JSU was right back on offense with the first possession of overtime.
DaMarcus James, who finished the day with 189 rushing yards and three touchdowns, was a force for JSU all day and scored on a 13-yard TD run that gave JSU a 34-27 lead following Thomas’ PAT.
Forced to score a touchdown, the Racers converted two fourth-down conversions on their following possession and eventually scored on a QB sneak from one yard out.
MSU coach Chris Hatcher felt after seeing the Gamecocks comeback in the second half that they were not going to be stopped offensively and taking a page out of JSU’s own playbook (ask Ole Miss), the Racers lined up for a two-point conversion for the win.
Quarterback Miller rolled right and found an open receiver going towards the sideline who had been screened open by a pick set from another receiver. Foul or no foul, the receiver scored easily and the play stood giving Murray the 35-34 victory.
Jacksonville State ended the day with a division I school record 652 total yards of offense surpassing the old mark of 646 yards against Samford in 2004, and had numerous chances to put more points on the board but made critical errors in key situations.
A season high four turnovers including two fourth-quarter interceptions, a fumble lost inside the Racers’ five yard line, along with two missed field goals from the FCS leading kicker in field goals made entering the day, Griffin Thomas, was just too much for the Gamecocks to survive.
Murray State led 10-0 after the first quarter, but after Thomas, who would make 2/4 field goals on the day, made his first and Mile Jones rushed in for his first career touchdown as a Gamecock, JSU had cut the lead to 10-13.
Murray scored to go up by 10 again, but JSU was driving late in the half when they lost the fumble that would be recovered by MSU in the end zone for a touchback.
James would score his first two touchdowns of the day in the third to give JSU a 24-20 lead entering the fourth. The Racers scored early in the quarter to lead 27-24, but after two picks on offense it would take JSU until the final seconds to get back in position for a game tying kick.
The loss to Murray State snapped several streaks including six straight wins in overtime which dates back to 2006, the last time JSU lost in OT was in 2003, to Murray State… the only other time the Racers have beaten the Gamecocks.
The seven game home winning streak came to an end, and coach Clark lost for the first time as the head coach at his Alma Mater here in his first season.
The Gamecocks travel Saturday to Martin, TN where they’ll take on the UT-Martin Skyhawks (3-1) who are currently ranked #22 in the FCS.
A win would put JSU back in favorable spot, while a loss would be critical with OVC powers Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois still to come on the schedule.