The Gamecocks lost the FCS National Championship against the North Dakota State Bison 37-10.
The Bison took home their fifth consecutive FCS Title, and the Gamecocks finished the season with a 13-2 record.
The Gamecocks entered into the FCS title game ranked number one against the four-time defending national champions. It was a hard game for JSU as they struggled to get anything together offensively. The first quarter opened optimistically enough. JSU was able to contain the Bison enough to hold them to only three points in the first.
The second quarter seemed to blow up for the Bison. They scored their first touchdown of the game on a pass from Carson Wentz to Andrew Bonnet to put the them up 10-0.
An interception thrown by Eli Jenkins set up the Bison for their next touchdown, which pushed them up 17-0 with 11:13 left in the half. A fumble gave NDSU another touchdown moving the score to 24-0.
The Gamecocks managed several first downs on their next possession before ultimately having to punt back to the Bison. An interception by Carson Wentz handed the ball back to JSU with 36 seconds left in the half.
The momentum shifted briefly, but the half ended with the Bison leading 24-0. The second half saw the momentum carry as the Gamecocks drove the ball 73 yards and scored behind Eli Jenkins’ legs.
It continued to look up for JSU as Wentz was intercepted by Brandon Bender, who took it 54 yards to set up a Gamecock field goal, making the score 24-10 with 3:41 left in the third.
The Bison managed to kick a field goal before the end bringing the score 27-10. JSU held the Bison to their first punt of the game at the opening of the fourth quarter.
A series of turnovers by both teams resulted in the Bison regaining control to score another touchdown and a field goal.
Although the game didn’t end as the Gamecocks would have wanted, this season marks the most successful in the 22 years of JSU being part of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Troymaine Pope only ended the day with 31 yards rushing, but he breaks the OVC’s single-season rushing record with his 1,788 yards. Eli Jenkins tied the school record for touchdowns with his 65th in this game. The seniors of JSU will leave with a 40-13 record overall, which is a JSU Division I record.
The season saw record-breaking crowds at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium, as pride surged for the top seeded Gamecocks.
This season may not have been “the” year, but it was quite a year. They finish with their only losses being to an SEC team that they took to overtime, and a five-time FCS title winner.
No the season didn’t end with a win but the Gamecocks made it. That itself is a reason to be proud.