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20 November 2006

JSU Season Ends with 2nd-half Meltdown

A 14-point halftime lead on the scoreboard and a running back like Clay Green in the backfield usually is all the Jacksonville State football team needs.

This time they needed more.

The Gamecocks lost the lead and their final regular-season game as 17th-ranked Eastern Illinois roared back in the second half to win 28-24 Saturday and claim a share of its second straight Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title.

The victory wasn't enough to give the Panthers (8-4, 7-1 OVC) the OVC's automatic bid to the Division I-AA playoffs — that went to Tennessee-Martin — so they must wait for today's NCAA selection show to learn if their season continues.

For JSU, the loss ended a three-game winning streak that thrust the Gamecocks (6-5, 5-3) into the playoff picture and sent them to the offseason lamenting about a game they let get away.

“It was clearly a second-half meltdown,” JSU coach Jack Crowe said. “I think we let them off the ropes. We had them on the ropes, and we let them off.

“It's very unfortunate that we gave the football game away by making mistakes like we did.”

An interception on the first play of the second half, a fumbled punt and a major penalty on the goal line all conspired against the Gamecocks.

See story at The Anniston Star's website: .

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