Gamecocks fall short in upset bid against Florida State

The Gamecocks, playing the first of their abbreviated four-game fall schedule, kicked off the season in October for the first time since 1926. Jacksonville State led Florida State for a majority of the afternoon before dropping a 41-24 decision at Doak Campbell Stadium before a socially-distant crowd of 13,589.

Stephen Duke, Correspondent

Jacksonville State’s football team appeared to be heading toward a possible monumental upset on Saturday against the Florida State Seminoles, but came up short with a final score of 24-41.

The Gamecocks have been known to upset or put a scare in many Football Bowl Subdivision opponents over the last ten years. From the 49-48 double overtime upset win over Ole Miss in 2010 to taking Auburn down to the wire in 2015, the Gamecocks have shown they can compete with some of the upper echelon of college football.

Saturday’s game began the first of four non-conference games that the Gamecocks will play this fall, with the conference slate moved to the spring as a result of COVID-19. The Gamecocks led 21-14 at halftime and were ignited by Kolbi Fuqua’s early pick-six to start the scoring for the Gamecocks. 

The Gamecocks were up 14-0 at the end of the first courtesy of Fuqua’s interception and Western Kentucky transfer Josh Samuel’s 20-yard scoring run midway through the first quarter. After an abysmal start by Seminole quarterback Tate Rodemaker, head coach Mike Norvell put in Jordan Travis, who then directed the Noles to a scoring drive to draw within seven, but the Gamecocks scored once again, this time on a two-yard run by quarterback Zerrick Cooper, which gave the Gamecocks the 21-14 halftime lead.

All was seemingly going well for the Gamecocks in the first half. They had a two-score lead on a team who has fallen on hard times in recent years, but is still a national name. They had rattled the quarterback in the first half, and were beating the Noles on their home turf. Unfortunately, it would end up being a tale of two halves for the Gamecocks.

Florida State seemed to find their groove in the second half, looking like a completely different team than the one that played seemingly demoralized after the previous week’s blowout loss to ACC foe Miami (the ACC is playing a ten conference game plus one non-conference game; in this case, the Gamecocks were FSU’s plus one). Jordan Travis put the team on his back and eventually evened the score at 21-21 in the third quarter. The Gamecocks kicked a field goal with just under ten minutes to play in the third quarter, making the score 24-21. Unfortunately, the Seminoles would hole the Gamecocks scoreless the remainder of the game.

The Seminole offense continued to wear down the Gamecock defense in the second half, outrushing the Gamecocks 263-63. Jordan Travis proved to be the difference maker and completely in charge of the offense as he led the Seminoles offense to the 41-24 victory in Tallahassee. For the Gamecocks, Zerrick Cooper went 22/30 passing for 232 yards, no touchdowns and an interception late as he tried to rally the Gamecocks back.

Up next for the Gamecocks is Mercer. The Gamecocks and the Bears square off for the first time this Saturday at 2 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field for the Gamecocks’ Homecoming game.

While the game is expected to go on as planned, be sure to stay tuned as Tropical Storm Delta forms, as this may affect the playing of the game as scheduled. This will be the Gamecocks lone home game of the non-conference slate in the COVID-19-altered season. You can attend the game in-person or tune into ESPN+.

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