Ashley Finerson, Sports Correspondent
The Jacksonville Gamecocks played a tough football game against Eastern Washington that ended with most of the fans on their feet. Jacksonville State was able to come back from a 21-point deficit for the first time since the historic win against Ole Miss in 2010.
The first quarter was overall a rough one for the Gamecocks. It started when Washington’s Dre Dorton scored a touchdown on a 90 yard return after just the kick-off. After this setback, JSU still wasn’t able to score and was forced to punt. Once Washington regained possession of the ball, Andrew Boston was able to score a touchdown from a pass by Eric Barriere.
Once JSU regained possession of the ball, Jamari Hester was finally able to put the Gamecocks on the board with a touchdown from a pass by quarterback Zerrick Cooper. Though Washington ended up scoring two more times thanks to Jayson Williams and Jayce Gilder who both scored a touchdown from a pass by their quarterback. This ended the first quarter 28-7 with Washington leading and things not looking great for the Gamecocks.
At the beginning of the second quarter, JSU took action when Marlon Bridges intercepted Eric Barriere’s pass and scored an eye-catching 67-yard touchdown. Bryant Wallace was able to complete the field goal attempt for the extra point. After a failed attempt by Washington to score, JSU’s Josh Person was able to put another touchdown on the board with a pass from Zerrick Cooper along with Bryant Wallace once again successfully gaining an extra point.
Washington eventually gained possession of the ball and were the last to score in the second quarter with a touchdown made by Jayson Williams on a pass from Eric Barriere. The second quarter ended with the score 35-21 and Washington still in the lead, but the Gamecocks now have a chance to come back for the win.
At the start of the third quarter, JSU was able to score a touchdown by running back Michael Matthews with a pass from Zerrick Cooper and an extra point added by Bryant Wallace. Washington fought to keep the lead by scoring twice more, one with a failed attempt at an extra point. T. Limu-Jones was then able to bring in another touchdown with a pass from Eric Barriere and Seth Harrison adding the extra point. The third quarter ended with the score 45-28 and Washington still ahead and the Gamecocks not ready to give up.
The fourth quarter belonged to JSU. In the beginning of the quarter, Zerrick Cooper scored a touchdown with a 15 yard rush. After a back and forth attempt to score again, JSU was once again successful when Michael Matthews scored a touchdown from a 3 yard rush and Bryant Wallace again earning them once again an extra point.
Right after blocking Washington from gaining any points at only 59 seconds left in the game, running back Michael Matthews and Bryant Wallace pulled JSU into the lead with a score of 42-45. Finally, cornerback Yul Gowdy intercepted a pass from Eric Barriere bringing in the miraculous game-winning touchdown, ending the fourth quarter with a score of 49-45. JSU pulled off their second win of the football season. Afterwards, JSU jumped seven spots in the FCS polls ranking in the top ten and knocking Eastern Washington out of their No. 4 spot.
“It was a big win, high rank team, going to move JSU up in the ranking and it felt pretty good to win in a comeback,” said JSU safety Charles Crawford. When asked what he felt the biggest accomplishment of the game was, he said that it was staying in the game, not getting their heads down and finishing the game off with a win.
“Emotions were everywhere, but it feels so great, so awesome to come out on top after fighting so hard to win the game,” said defensive end TaCorie Russell. “It wasn’t looking good for them in a lot of spots of the game, just coming out on top in the end was the biggest accomplishment the team had.
“They played with and coached with a lot of class and we were fortunate enough to come out of it with a win. We talked about it all week about getting it to the fourth quarter and we felt like we would have an advantage in the fourth quarter being at home and we did,” said head coach John Grass. “I think a big turning point in that game was when Marlon Bridges intercepts the ball and runs it back. We started chipping away at the lead. We made the plays down the stretch to give us a chance to win the game. I am very proud of our guys after we hung around after that first quarter and we responded.”
To stay up to date with the JSU football team, follow them on Twitter at “JSUgamecocksfb” and on Facebook at Jacksonville State Gamecocks. The Gamecocks will play at home this Saturday at Burgess Snow Field on September 21 at 6 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Matt Reynolds/JSU