Gamecock football comes to close in 20-14 loss to Delaware in FCS playoffs

Gamecocks come up short against Delaware as their season comes to a close. (Courtesy of JSU)Gamecocks come up short against Delaware as their season comes to a close. (Courtesy of JSU)

Thomas Ashworth, Interim Sports Editor

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks fell to the Delaware Blue Hens in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals on Sunday with a final score of 20-14.

This served as the Gamecocks’ second meeting with Delaware, their first being a 42-27 loss in the first round of 1978 Division II Playoffs in Newark, Del.

The Blue Hens struck first after sophomore quarterback Anthony Paoletti ran it in for a touchdown to make it a 7-0 game. After four plays by the Gamecocks offense ended in a punt, Delaware got rushed in for another touchdown, making it a 14-0 game with 3:28 left in the first quarter.

After quarterback Zion Webb left on crutches, sophomore Chance Newman entered at quarterback for the Gamecocks.

Despite an interception by All-OVC selection Jacquez Payton with 11:14 left in the second quarter, the scoreboard stayed the same at the end of the first half, with the Gamecocks trailing 14-0.

The Gamecocks’ offense came alive early in the second half, as quarterback AC Graham rushed 74 yards to Delaware’s one yard line. Uriah West finished the job, getting the ball in the endzone to put the Gamecocks on the board.

After personal foul and targeting calls on the Gamecocks put Delaware on JSU’s nine yard line, the Gamecocks’ red zone defense proved to be too much for the Blue Hens, who had to settle for a field goal. 

No more points were scored by either team in the third quarter, as the scoreboard stayed put at 17-7 going into the fourth.

The Blue Hens put three more points on the board with 5:30 left in the game, advancing their lead to 20-7. With 41 seconds left in the game, quarterback AC Graham found Jared Scott for a 27-yard touchdown reception. Despite the late effort, the Gamecocks ultimately fell 20-14, ending their season.

The three Jacksonville State quarterbacks went for a combined 9-21, throwing for 93 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Despite accounting for both interceptions, quarterback AC Graham led the team in rushing yards with 62. Uriah West rushed for the lone touchdown of the game, with Gamecocks running backs combining for 16 yards and a touchdown.

Tight end Trae Barry led the team in receiving yards, with 52 yards on four receptions. Jared Scott had the lone receiving touchdown, totaling 27 yards and a touchdown on one reception.

Delaware will advance to the FCS Championship Tournament Semifinals to face the winner of the South Dakota State vs Southern Illinois game, which takes place at 8 p.m. CST on ESPN2.

As for the Gamecocks, they will look on to next season. Their 2021 season will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 1 in Montgomery as they play UAB in the Cramton Bowl. 

After they travel to Tallahassee, Fla. to play Florida State on Saturday, Sept. 11, the Gamecocks will host in-state rival North Alabama for their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 18.

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