Preston Odam, Correspondent
On Wednesday, August 31, Jacksonville State and UAB faced off in an in-state rivalry duel to begin the 2021 football season at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The Gamecocks were shut out by the stingy UAB Blazer defense, losing the match up 31-0.
For Jacksonville State, this was the first time being shut out in 104 games dating back to the 2012 football season where the Gamecocks lost 23-0 against the Florida Gators. This season opener is a quick turnaround for the Gamecocks as just a little over 120 days ago they were playing in the FCS quarterfinal playoff game against Delaware.
The game was tight during the first half as both JSU and UAB’s defenses were clicking on all cylinders. The teams were trading blows when early on JSU’s defense forced a fumble, however, due to the number 7 nationally ranked FBS defensive unit of the Blazers, JSU was not able to capitalize.
Jacksonville State was limited to a total of only eight first downs for the game and only two in the first half. Punter, Jack Dawson, was pinning the UAB offense deep until late in the second quarter UAB was able to block a punt that eventually led to a field goal giving the Blazers the lead 10-0 going into the half time intermission.
JSU’s quarterback Zerrick Cooper was the Gamecocks bright spot on offense as he threw for 91 yards and led all rushers with 28 total yards. Freshman wide out PJ Wells was able to rack up a team high of 42 receiving yards on the night. On the defensive side of the ball, safety Nicario Harper and linebacker Marshall Clark led the Gamecocks with 11 tackles each.
JSU head coach John Grass told Jax State Sport Information, “We could not get anything going offensively in the first half. We played well enough in the first half to stay in the game, but we could not duplicate that in the third quarter to give ourselves a chance in the fourth.”
The Gamecocks now will head to Tallahase, Fla. for a September 11 game against the Seminoles of Florida State. The game will kick off at 7:00 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium. JSU faced Florida State last season as well in a game they lost 41-24. This will be the second FBS opponent in a row JSU faces before beginning FCS and conference play the following week.