Preston Odam, Correspondent
Jacksonville State traveled to Doak Campbell Stadium on the campus of Florida State University on Saturday, September 11, to beat the Seminoles in arguably the biggest upset of the college football season thus far. The Gamecocks won in epic fashion when Zerrick Cooper threw a dart to Damond Philyaw-Johnson as time expired to give the Gamecocks a 20-17 victory over the historically elite Seminoles.
Jacksonville State’s head coach John Grass told Jax State Sports Information as players, coaches, and staff celebrated around him, “You’ve got to play at a certain level execution-wise in these types of games and we did that tonight. We missed a chance to score on the same play before. Damond was open and we missed him and we decided to do it again. He beat his man, Zerrick made a perfect throw, he made a great cut and Ahmad Edwards made a big block and got him in the end zone.”
After the extraordinary 59-yard touchdown that would win the game for the Gamecocks, Philyaw-Johnson was bombarded by teammates celebrating the victory as FSU fans and cheerleaders looked on in astonishment. The Gamecocks were also the number one trending topic on Twitter after the win.
During the game Zerrick Cooper not only led Jax State to an amazing victory, he also became the all time leading passer with 7,819 yards for his career. He also set a new school record for most passing touchdowns in a career with 63. These two records will only grow as the season progresses, but it is an incredible feat for a phenomenal player.
Cooper threw for 242 yards with two touchdowns in the second time the Gamecocks have traveled to FSU in 11 months as they played each other during the fall last season. The Gamecocks were competitive in that game but could not get over the hump. This time it was a different story as JSU hung tough the entire game, then they struck late in the fourth to garner a huge win for the Gamecock football program.
Jax State struck first in the competition after a long 15 play march down the field. Running back Josh Samuel capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown. The Gamecock kicker Alen Karajic tacked on the extra point giving JSU a lead of 7-0 with 11:08 left in the second quarter.
JSU’s defense would force a punt on the next FSU drive. The Gamecocks were able to push the ball and got into the Seminole’s red zone before a forced fumble turned the ball back over to Florida State. The Seminole’s would tie the game 7-7 on their next possession.
After another punt by the Gamecocks, Jashaun Corbin and McKenzie Milton helped lead the Seminole offense back down the field in a drive that led to FSU scoring and gaining a 14-7 lead over JSU with 9 seconds left in the first half. In the third quarter, Florida State kicker Ryan Fitzgerald added a field goal giving FSU a 10 point lead for most of the second half.
Cooper connected with Ahmad Edwards on a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter cutting the FSU lead to 3, 17-14. This pass was Cooper’s 62nd touchdown pass which broke Ed Lett’s all time passing touchdown record.
Cooper’s 63rd touchdown pass was quite possibly the most memorable touchdown pass in Jacksonville State Football history. This win over Florida State was the first time the Seminoles have ever lost to an FCS program. The incredible play and upset also gives Gamecock fans a call back to 2010 when JSU went into Oxford, Mississippi upsetting Ole Miss.
Next week, Jacksonville State faces ASUN Conference and in-state rival North Alabama at Burgess-Snow Field. The game is a huge conference rivalry and is the home opener for the Gamecocks. JSU leads the all-time series against the North Alabama Lions including wins in each of the last three games the two programs have faced off. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.