Tag: Grass

JSU renews old time rivalry with University of North Alabama

Josie Howell, Sports Editor

In 2018, it was announced that old time rivals, Jacksonville State University and the University of North Alabama, would once again play each other in football. This is a rivalry that dates back to 1949 and has often times been compared to the longstanding Alabama-Auburn rivalry. After not playing for two years, both teams came to a four-year agreement that both players and fans are excited about. This is a game that has always seen a 20,000 plus crowd and the same can be expected for the 2019 season as JSU hosts UNA.

This new contract between the two teams comes after UNA switched from playing in the Division II Gulf South Conference to now playing in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, the same conference that Jacksonville State is a part of. 

“The two times we’ve played them, was the largest crowds that we have ever had. So, we need to play them. It’s the old south rivalry. You bring those back and people pack it out,” said John Grass, JSU head football coach. “They have a great historical program and you’ll have a 20,000 plus crowd there, so that game will be a lot of fun.”

One of North Alabama’s last game against an FCS opponent was against Jacksonville State in 2016, with a 31-12 loss. The last time the Lions won over Jacksonville State was in 2003 with a score of 28-16. The lions had a 13-1 season that ended with a loss in the semifinals of the Division II playoffs. JSU, on the other hand, went on to win the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.

The first matchup between the two teams will be at Jacksonville State’s Burgess Snow Stadium on Sept. 21, 2019. The Gamecocks will then travel to Florence to take on the Lions at Braly Stadium on September 12, 2020. The two schools will meet against in Jacksonville in 2021 and then once again in Florence in 2022.The 2020 Matchup will be JSU’s first game in Florence since winning the 1992 Division II National Championship at Braly Stadium.

The Lions have returning starters from last year that will have an impact on the matchup between the two teams. One of those players is starting quarterback Christian Lopez. According to the UNA athletics website, Lopez threw for 2,184 yards and 14 touchdowns for the 2018 season. He also was able to rush a total of five touchdowns. 

UNA’s running back, Terence Humphrey, also played an integral role in last year’s season and is also expected to make a huge impact for the Lions this season. According to UNA’s athletics page, Humphrey is one of UNA’s leading rushers, who carried the ball 67 times and accounted for 290 yards in the 2018 season and with a career total of 467 yards, with an average of 4.5 yards per carry.

For the Lion’s defense, K.J. Smith will play a major role. Smith played in all 10 games in 2018. He finished third on his team in tackles with 49 total tackles. Smith also accounted for three tackles for loss of six yards, three interceptions that he returned 79 yards and five pass break-ups.

One of JSU’s main players that the team and fans hope to see a lot out of for not just this game, but for the entire season, is Clemson transfer and starting quarterback Zerrick Cooper. Cooper accounted for well over 3,000 passing yards in the 2018 season and had an impressive 251 first pass completions. 

Jacksonville State University will host the University of North Alabama at Burgess Snow Field September 21 at 6 p.m. To stay up to date on what is happening with the JSU gamecocks football team, you can follow them on twitter at “JSUGamecocksFB” and on Facebook at Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

Photo courtesy of JSU

Gamecock football set to have strong season

Josie Howell, Sports Editor

Jacksonville, Ala. – The 2019 football season for the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks is expected to be one for the books. Last season, Grass had many freshmen and overall new players across the team, he now has a much more experienced team to take on the 2019 season.

Last year, the Gamecocks brought in their 5th consecutive OVC championship and ended with a 7-1 conference record and a 9-4 overall record. Not only have the Gamecocks been chosen as number six overall in the Football Championship Subdivision preseason polls following their 2018 season, but they were also picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference Championship for a sixth year in a row, which has never been done before in OVC history. Fans and players alike are not only excited about making OVC history, but also to have another shot at possibly bringing home a national title with a team that has already proven successful and talented.

Josh Pearson, wide receiver and pre-season All American, is one of the key players to be on the lookout for. Pearson is a talented wide receiver that, according his player profile stats on the JSU Gamecocks website, accounted for well over 1,000 yards for the 2018-2019 season and is expected to bring that same energy and talent in the 2019 season.
Another key player is starting quarterback and Clemson transfer and preseason All American Zerrick Cooper. Cooper brought in well over an incredible 3,000 yards for the 2018 season but after having actual game experience under his belt, he can be expected to have an even better season in 2019.

Safety Marlon Bridges, Defensive Back Yul Gowdy, Line-Backer Jalen Choice, and defensive back Traco Williams will all be key players when it comes to JSU’s defense. According to the player statistic on the JSU Gamecocks website, Gowdy was also named preseason All-American as a sophomore and made a total of 41 tackles for the season as well as 11 tackles for loss. Choice and Williams were both named 2nd Team All-OVC. Williams was able to bring in four interceptions, 66 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 10 passes defended. Choice was able to bring in a total of 88 tackles and 12 tackles for loss.

Newcomer Brandon Hudgins is another player to be on the lookout for. While Hudgins still has some in-game college experience to gain, he was named a three-star recruit by scout.com and received offers from multiple universities like Georgia Tech, UAB and South Alabama, just to name a few. Ultimately, Hudgins committed to playing as a linebacker for Jacksonville State. His senior year in high school, Hudgins was named one of the top 60 players of Alabama by Rivals.com and was ranked one of the top 40 Linebackers in the country.

Jacksonville State will be playing a total of seven home games this season, giving them many opportunities for home field advantage. This includes an exciting game against the University of North Alabama, which many fans are excited about given that UN was previously taken off of the gamecocks schedule.

The schedule for the 2019-2020 Gamecocks football schedule is as follows: August 29, Southeastern Louisiana, Hammond, LA. September 7, Chattanooga, at JSU. September 14, Eastern Washington, at JSU. September 21, North Alabama, at JSU. September 28, Austin Peay, Clarksville, TN. October 5, Tennessee State, at JSU. October 12, Eastern Illinois, Charleston, IL. October 19, Southeastern Missouri, at JSU. October 26, Murray State, at JSU. November 2, UT Martin, Martin TN. November 9, Tennessee Tech, Cookeville, TN. November 23, Eastern Kentucky, at JSU.

Photo courtesy of Matt Reynolds/JSU