Ashley Finerson, Sports Correspondent
After a tough loss against Southeastern Louisiana, the Gamecocks were able to come back strong for their first home game against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and pull out a victory.
About half way through the first quarter, Chattanooga was unable to score a touchdown, ao instead they went for a field goal in an attempt to get some points on the board. UTC kicker, Victor Ulmo, was able to successfully put these first few points on the board for UTC.
It was not long until the Gamecocks answered back. Four minutes later, JSU came back with a touchdown by Jamari Kinsley who received a 39-yard pass from Zerrick Cooper and an extra point from Bryant Wallace, putting the first quarter to an end.
Five minutes into the second quarter, JSU came back even stronger and scored their second touchdown by Austin Kinsley in a 28-yard rush and Bryant Wallace putting the extra point on the scoreboard. This was followed by yet another touchdown by the gamecocks, giving JSU a generous lead for the game. Chattanooga continued to fall short of scoring a touchdown, forcing them to go for another field goal, which was once again successful by UTC kicker Victor Ulmo, bringing the score 20-6 at halftime.
Once the third quarter began, Chattanooga came back stronger and more determined to gain the lead. They were able to finally score a touchdown by starting quarterback Nick Tiano with a two-yard rush. However, JSU answered back quickly with a touchdown from a risky 40-yard pass in the fourth down by Zerrick Cooper to Trae Barry.
“Magic! It was one of those plays where you’re on the sidelines or in the stands just sitting there watching the ball and everybody’s eyes get big, but that’s one of our strengths, and I love that about our team,” said Head Coach John Grass about the 40-yeard touchdown. “We really don’t care who makes the play, it just has to be made. Trae was having a tremendous night and he came through again. Coop put it up there. That’s another thing about Coop, he trusts us to make plays, so he’s going to give us the opportunity regardless of what’s going on.”
After another touchdown from the Gamecocks, UTC answered back just as quick, scoring another touchdown from a two-yard rush by Ailym Ford and Victor Ulmo putting an extra point on the board for the Mocs. At the end of the third quarter, the score stood at a close 27 to 20, giving UTC a chance to come back for a win
Come the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks had control of the ball. Within just 15 plays and a total of six minutes and 27 seconds, JSU’s redshirt freshman Austin Kinsey scored the first touchdown of the fourth quarter. Once JSU regained possession, after forcing UTC to punt, starting quarterback Zerrick Cooper was able to rush one yard to score the second touchdown for the fourth quarter. The game ended with JSU 41 and Chattanooga 20.
Wide receiver Josh Person, had three complete catches from quarterback Zerrick Cooper, and also had a total gain of 25 yards throughout the game. As for quarterback Zerrick Cooper, he had an undoubtedly great game with a total of two touchdowns, one interception and a total gain of 334 yards.
After the game, third year player Zion Webb said, “It felt great to win.” It can be easily assumed that the rest of the team felt the same way. JSU football team is now 1-1 for their record and this game had put Chattanooga’s record 1-1 as well.
“We didn’t play well in our first game, but we didn’t let that define us. We came back, we played well at home, had a great crowd and the atmosphere was top-notch from the Southerners to cheerleaders to Cocky. We had close to 20,000 people, so it was a good night all around. We beat a good Chattanooga team, but we still made some mistakes we’ve got to correct.” said Grass about Saturday’s game.
“There are some things that we did well, that we did a lot better than we did in the opener, so I did see a will to win from our team. We knew Chattanooga was always a really good game. We couldn’t put them all the way away and they battled back, but our team responded,” continued Grass. “It was just good to see when they scored, our offense came back and scored again. We didn’t get rattled. We came out pretty healthy and excited about moving on to this next week.”
For the next two games, the Gamecocks will be playing at home. The next game will be this Saturday, September 14 against Eastern Washington and then against the University of North Alabama the following Saturday, September 21.
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Photo courtesy of JSU