With the help from three different quarterbacks, the Gamecocks (2-1) defeated West Alabama (2-1) 45-34.
It was announced that 18,912 were in attendance to see Jacksonville State play West Alabama. This was the first time they played since 1992 where JSU won.
Jacksonville State played three different quarterbacks and they all threw at least one touchdown. This was the first time in JSU history where three quarterbacks threw for a touchdown pass.
Eli Jenkins had a touchdown pass to Markis Merrill for 88 yards. Max Shortell had two touchdown passes to Josh Barge who had three total touchdown catches. His third touchdown catch was from Christian Lemay, the third quarterback that played.
“I’m comfortable with all three of those guys,” head coach John Grass said about the three quarterbacks.
The Gamecocks running game was effective as DaMarcus James scored a rushing touchdown to make 37 in his career. Troymaine Pope and Miles Jones both rushed for over 100 yards.
Jax State’s defense would get their first take-away of the season as Jermaine Hough intercepted a pass and scored on a 34-yard return.
The scoring started with West Alabama striking first. It only took the Tigers 3 plays and 67 yards to put the first points on the board. Kyle Caldwell had connected with Tyshaan Alston on a 5-yard pass. The Gamecocks would respond with an 88-yard pass from Jenkins to Merrill. The score would end 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Shortell would arrive at quarterback in the second quarter and throw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Barge. This would make the score 14-7 until Connor Rouleau added three more points with a field goal to make it 17-7. James would help put the Gamecocks up 24-7 as he ran in a 3-yard touchdown. West Alabama would score right before the half on a pass from Caldwell to Chad Toocheck. The halftime score was 24-14.
Both teams scored three-straight touchdowns in the second half. JSU would score their three touchdowns first as it started with Shortell passing to Barge again for a 13-yard touchdown. That drive consisted of 10 plays and 99 yards. The Gamecocks went up 31-14 to only to score again with another touchdown catch from Barge. This time, Lemay was the quarterback who threw the 14-yard touchdown pass to Barge. The touchdown pass was Lemay’s first of his career and it gave Barge a new career high of three touchdown passes. This made the score 38-14. The Gamecocks last touchdown would come on defense as Hough scored on a 34-yard interception return to make it 45-14.
West Alabama would score three last-minute touchdowns in the fourth quarter. However, it wasn’t enough as the final score ended in JSU favor 45-34.
Jacksonville State ended with 336 rushing yards and 294 passing yards. The Gamecocks total offensive yards were 630. Jaylen Hill led the team with six tackles.
“It’s good to get that first home win,” Grass said as he became the eighth Gamecock head coach to win his home-opener.
The Gamecocks are now 2-1 and eighth in the FCS. Jacksonville State will now head back on the road as they play at Murray State this Saturday in an OVC Conference game.