Josie Howell, Sports Editor
After winning every home game of the season so far, the Gamecocks went into Saturday’s game with their heads high, but Southeastern Missouri would be the first team to really challenge the Gamecocks on their home field.
The Cardinals did not take the game right from the get go, but instead they slowly crept up on the Gamecocks to take the game with a final score of 24-21.
Clemson transfer and starting quarterback Zerrick Cooper still showed out on the field to the best of his ability despite being sacked four times by SEMO. Cooper racked in 347 total yards for the game as well as two touchdowns for the Gamecocks. Cooper now has 53 career touchdowns, ranking him at number eight for total school touchdowns, number one being 61 touchdowns set by former JSU Gamecock, Ed Lett.
For the entire first quarter, it was a scoreless game in the pouring rain. The game continued to be a scoreless game for the majority of the second quarter. Then, with only a minute left in the half, the Cardinals decided to set the tone by racking in the first touchdown of the game along with a successful extra point, bringing the score 7-0 with SEMO in the lead.
It seemed as though the Gamecocks would not have a chance to answer back until the second half, but instead Cooper made a last minute two-yard touchdown running out the game clock and bringing the score to an even 7-7 going into halftime.
Coming into the second half, neither teams would be able to make a touchdown for the remainder of the third quarter. However, the Cardinals were able to successfully make a field goal, putting them in the lead by three points going into the fourth quarter with a score of 10-7.
While this game was mostly defense with little action from the offense, the fourth quarter would be different with two touchdowns from each team all which was scored with less than five minutes left in the game.
Once again, the cardinals put the first few points on the board for the quarter with an 80-yard touchdown and extra point, putting them ahead 17-7. Ten plays later from the Gamecocks, Cooper made an eight-yard pass to wide-receiver Jamari Hester putting six-points on the board, along with an extra point by Bryant Wallace for the Gamecocks.
After the Cardinals once again answered back with another seven points, the Gamecocks did not give up. With seven seconds left in the game, Cooper would sneak in one last touchdown. While this would not win the game for the Gamecocks, it brought the final score to a close 24-21.
“[Southeast Missouri] was a run heavy team, very good upfront and [had] three really good running backs. Until those last few drives, we had held them to 161 yards of offense, which is less than two yards of offense. We just didn’t make enough plays to win the game,” said John Grass, JSU’s head coach.
“I was pleased with how we played on the line of scrimmage on both sides. If we play that type of energy and that type of intensity, then I think we have a shot at being a pretty good football team. – Moving forward, all of our hopes and dreams are still alive and we are still chasing that,” said Grass.
Despite the loss, this matchup showed the strength of JSU’s defense by keeping the Cardinals from gaining a total of 248 yards. Linebacker, Jalen Choice, led the Gamecocks with nine tackles. Meanwhile, Defensive end, DJ Coleman, recorded a sack for his fourth consecutive game.
Jacksonville State will be hosting Murray State this Saturday, Oct. 26 at Burgess Snow Field. Kick-off will begin at 3 p.m. Fans can stream the game on the ESPN+ app or listen to the game on WLJS 91.9 FM.