In the second round of the FCS Playoffs, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks lost 37-26 to the Sam Houston Bearkats. The Gamecocks season ends with an overall 10-2 record.
In the loss, JSU had more rushing and passing yards than Sam Houston. The Gamecocks ran for 260 yards, while Sam Houston ran for 241. Sam Houston threw for 161 yards, but the Gamecocks threw for 253.
It was 12 penalties and two turnovers that really hurt Jacksonville State. The Bearkats scored 14 points off those turnovers and they only had four penalties.
Eli Jenkins led with 337 all-purpose yards. Jenkins threw for 253 yards and added 84 yards on the ground. Jenkins had a passing and a rushing touchdown.
DaMarcus James led in rushing with 128 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was James 49th career rushing touchdown and puts him at the top of the list for career rushing touchdowns breaking David Gulledge all-time school record.
On defense, there were four Gamecocks in double digits with tackles. Ben Endress and Michael Carlisle led with 11 tackles, while Siran Neal and Folo Johnson both had 10 tackles.
On Jacksonville State’s first drive of the game, the Gamecocks drove right down the field on 5 plays for 70 yards to score the first touchdown of the game. On the drive, Jenkins completed two big passes, one to Markis Merrill for 29 yards, and the other to Josh Barge for 40 yards. The passes set up a 1-yard touchdown run by James. Sam Houston answered with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jared Johnson to Keshawn Hill to tie the score 7-7. JSU would then respond and go up 14-7 with a 73-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins to Spencer Goffigan. The score would remain 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Sam Houston struck first in the second quarter and tied the score at 14. JSU would answer with a touchdown of their own as Jenkins ran for 14 yards into the end zone. The extra point was blocked, so the score remained 20-14. It was 8:36 left in the second quarter when Sam Houston took the lead for the first time in the game going up 21-20 due to a touchdown pass from Johnson to LaDarius Brown. The Gamecocks would respond again, but this time with a 37-yard field goal by Connor Rouleau to jump ahead 23-21. Sam Houston would mock JSU with a field goal of their own to take the lead 24-23. However, JSU regained the lead with a 42-yard field goal by Rouleau right before the end of the half to lead 26-24 at halftime.
The Gamecocks played well in the first half, but the second half was the difference maker. The Gamecocks were shut out in the second half. The defense gave up two touchdowns in the third quarter to give Sam Houston the 37-26 lead. The Gamecocks had a chance to comeback, but fell short. JSU turned the ball over late in the fourth quarter and that sealed the deal.
Sam Houston will now face Villanova in the Division I Quarterfinals.
In the post-game interview, JSU head coach John Grass talked about the loss.
“They just made a few more plays than we did,” Grass said.
“Our guys played extremely hard (and) played the game physical. We did not play a bad game. At times we played extremely well today.”
Although JSU loss, John Grass was still named the American Football Coaches Association 2014 FCS Regional Coach of the Year.
JSU will look to do just as good in the regular season next year as they did this year. The Gamecocks won every single Conference game in the regular season and was named OVC Champions. Next season, the Gamecocks will look to not only make the playoffs again, but to go further than the second round and maybe to the Championship.