Gamecocks victorious over rival North Alabama Lions

JSU Quarterback Zerrick Cooper (6), pictured right, clocked in at 290 yards — both passing and rushing — and accounted for a total of three touchdowns. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)JSU Quarterback Zerrick Cooper (6), pictured right, clocked in at 290 yards — both passing and rushing — and accounted for a total of three touchdowns. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Thomas Ashworth, Correspondent

The Jacksonville State University football team narrowly defeated the University of North Alabama Lions by a score of 24-17 on Saturday, giving the Gamecocks a 2-1 record in its abridged fall football season.

Assistant Head Football Coach Jimmy Ogle led the Gamecocks in their matchup against the University of North Alabama on Saturday. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Despite head coach John Grass not traveling with the team due to his COVID-19 diagnosis on Thursday, the Gamecocks were able to pull off the victory overseen by the rest of the coaching staff and led by long-time assistant Jimmy Ogle.

“I’m really proud of our staff and our players for pulling out the win,” said Grass on a post game media teleconference. “I was just really proud of the way we played in the second half. I thought all three phases of the game played well after halftime.”

After a successful field goal by North Alabama kicker Sam Contorno, the first quarter had no more scoring and the quarter ended with North Alabama leading 3-0.

Zerrick Cooper and running back Pat Jackson led the Gamecocks to the first touchdown of the game in the second quarter. Wide receiver Quan Charleston had a 14 yard reception to put the Gamecocks ahead 7-3. This was followed not much later by a rushing touchdown by UNA’s Pat Driggers. The score was 10-7 at the end of the half with UNA leading JSU.

The Gamecocks totaled two touchdowns in the third quarter, both of which were rushing touchdowns by Cooper. The Lions also scored another touchdown, which resulted in the third quarter ending with the Gamecocks leading 21-17.

The fourth quarter featured great defensive holds by the Gamecocks defense, and UNA didn’t score any more points. JSU earned three more points from a 36-yard field goal by Alen Karagic. After the win was sealed by an interception from Nicario Harper, the final score was 24-17.

This was JSU’s third game of the shortened fall season and their second victory in a row. The Gamecocks’ record improved to 2-1 after the victory, and they hope to continue the winning streak this Saturday against Florida International in Miami, Fla.

Quarterback Zerrick Cooper paved the way to a Gamecock victory during Saturday’s matchup. Cooper finished the night with 244 passing yards, one touchdown and 15 completions on 25 attempts. Cooper’s 61st career TD pass ties Ed Lett atop the school record book. Cooper also rushed for 46 yards on nine attempts and accounted for two rushing touchdowns. 

Trae Barry led the team in receiving yards, with 104 receiving yards on five receptions. Dave Russell had 50 receiving yards on three receptions, and Logan McVay had 40 receiving yards on two receptions. Quan Charleston had 14 yards on one reception, which was also the team’s lone receiving touchdown.

Running back Uriah West led the team in rushing yards, with 49 yards on 11 attempts. The running back core was also led by Pat Jackson, who had 29 yards on 9 attempts and Josh Samuel who had 24 yards on seven attempts.

The Gamecocks defense was led by defensive end DJ Coleman, who had nine total tackles, two and a half tackles for loss and a sack. Nicario Harper also helped the defense with seven total tackles and the win-sealing interception.

The next game will be on Oct. 23 in Miami, Fla. when the Gamecocks play against Florida International. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN 3 and broadcast live on WLJS 91.9 FM, the university’s student radio station.

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