Tag: JSU Football

‘One for the thumb’: Gamecocks win fifth straight OVC ring

(Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
The JSU  Football team celebrates winning their fifth consecutive OVC title after their 41-14 win over Tennessee State on Saturday.

Five in a row.

For the fifth time in five years under Coach John Grass, the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks have won the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.

“It’s a pretty special thing. I don’t know many college athletes that have four championships, let alone five,” Coach Grass said at Monday’s press conference. “These guys have got one for the thumb. It’s very impressive when you look back at it.”

For the first time under Grass however, that conference championship wasn’t pretty.

After losing to Southeast Missouri State earlier in the year, snapping their 36-game win streak in the OVC, Grass’s Gamecocks needed outside help for the first time to win the conference outright.

They got that help on Saturday, as Murray State completed a 31-point comeback against SEMO with a wild finish that included 20 points in the final 1:42 of game time and a game-winning kick return for touchdown with just three seconds remaining on the clock. Murray State left the door open for JSU with a 40-38 victory.

The Gamecocks took advantage of the opportunity with their 41-14 win over their final OVC opponent of the season, Tennessee State, securing the title once again.

Quarterback Zerrick Cooper had a big day in the conference-clinching win, throwing for 272 yards and three touchdowns. Two went to Jamari Hester and one to Josh Pearson, who extends his school-record receiving touchdowns mark to 16 on the season. Cooper also tied Ryan Perrilloux’s single-season school record for passing touchdowns in a season with 23.

“It’s definitely a blessing to win five conference championships since I’ve been here,” said redshirt senior lineman Tyler Scozzaro.

Scozzaro, who has been with the JSU football program since 2013, is one of five Gamecocks to have been on the roster for all five championship seasons.

EJ Moss, Emmanuel Fennel, Quan Stoudemire and Cade Stinnett will join Scozzaro in having received all five rings.

The win also secured the OVC’s Automatic Qualifier spot for the playoffs for JSU, promising a playoff berth that looked in doubt as recently as the previous week, when the Gamecocks trailed UT Martin late in the game at home, before a game-winner from Cooper to Hester lifted JSU.

JSU closes the regular season with a matchup against playoff-bound Kennesaw State, who ousted the Gamecocks in last season’s playoff opener 17-7. The game, played at the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park on Saturday, holds major playoff implications for both sides, as a win could secure a first-round bye for either quad, while a loss all but guarantees a game Thanksgiving weekend for the Gamecocks.

Armed with their five-straight conference championships, JSU will head into the playoffs in search of their first national title.



Streak Snapped: Gamecocks lose in OVC for first time since 2013

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(Mark Mahnke/SEMO) 
Marquis Terry (center) and the SEMO Warhawks snapped JSU’s streak of 36-straight OVC victories on Saturday.

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief

The streak has been snapped.

After nearly five years and 36 straight Ohio Valley Conference wins, the Jacksonville State Football team finally lost a conference game, ending their run with a 37-14 loss at Southeast Missouri State on Saturday.

The Gamecocks were just three wins shy of tying the mark of 39 conference wins in a row by Duquesne in the MAAC from 1999-2006, which is the FCS record.

The Gamecocks’ streak started on November 23, 2013 with a win over SEMO, and the Redhawks brought an end to the streak that saw its beginnings against them.

It took turnovers and special teams mistakes for JSU’s streak to come tumbling down.

“You have five turnovers and a blocked field goal for a touchdown,” Coach John Grass said. “You just can’t win games doing that.”

The blocked field goal came early in the second quarter, with a Stinnett field goal attempt that would have given the Gamecocks the lead at 10-0. Instead, SEMO seized the lead and the momentum, turning a 14-7 game into 30-7 by the end of the third.

Quarterback Zerrick Cooper threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns as the Gamecocks made their comeback attempt, but also threw three costly interceptions.

“It’s pretty amazing that we’ve played well enough to win 36 in a row.” Grass said at his press conference on Monday. “The reason I don’t talk about it ever is it doesn’t affect this football team. The streak has nothing to do with how we play. If we grow as much from this loss as we did from the opening loss of the year, then this team is going to play a lot more football.”

Saturday’s loss is the first conference defeat for Grass since he took the helm at Jacksonville State beginning in the 2014 season. Grass was the Offensive Coordinator on the Bill Clark-led 2013 squad that last lost to Jimmy Garoppolo and the Eastern Illinois Panthers 52-14 on November 16, 2013. Grass and current Assistant Head Football Coach Jimmy Ogle are the only individuals—staff members or players—that were at JSU in their current capacity during the last loss.

Saturday’s loss puts the Gamecocks’ other notable OVC streak, their four straight conference championships, in jeopardy.

Murray State currently leads the OVC with their 4-0 conference record, and SEMO joins JSU with one OVC loss. The Redhawks will hold a tiebreaker over JSU with the head-to-head win, however. The Gamecocks will likely need to win the remainder of their games and have SEMO drop another game for the “five-peat” to happen.

The Gamecocks start their post-streak life with a road game at OVC-leading Murray State this Saturday. Kickoff against the Racers is at 3 p.m.

For the first time in the John Grass Era in Jacksonville, it’s do-or-die time in the OVC.

Gamecocks beat APSU in homecoming matchup

Baylee Morris, Sports Editor

With the question of how the Gamecocks will do playing back to back games I think we all go our answer.

Homecoming 2018 against the Austin Peay Governors was a hard fought and hard-won game. With the Gamecocks pulling out a 48-32 victory over the Govs.

The 1st quarter started off rocky with the Governors going up 9-0 on JSU, but the in second quarter the Gamecocks would quickly score making it 12 to 14 at halftime. The game would remain tight until the Gamecocks broke away in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks only suffered yards of penalties compared to a few weeks previous.

The Governors and the Gamecocks gave a great performance and the Gamecocks capped off a great homecoming with a great victory. Now sitting at 2-0 in the conference the Gamecocks will leave Burgess-Snow and head out to Richmond, KY where the will square off with the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. 

The question of how the Gamecocks will do after two back to back bye weeks is over and now all eyes are on the Gamecocks to see if they can keep their perfect 34 OVC win streak. In the coming weeks the Gamecocks will look to extend their win streak. 

The Gamecocks will be back in action on Burgess-Snow Field on October 13 when they battle the Eastern Illinois Panthers at 3 P.M.

Gamecocks ready for first OVC matchup

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Coach John Grass and the JSU Gamecocks face off against Tennessee Tech on Saturday. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Josh Gilbert , Sports Writer

After their second bye week in only the first month of the season, the Jacksonville State football team is looking to continue the momentum they have after putting up record breaking numbers against Mississippi Valley State. “I thought we have handled the open weeks as best we could. We have gotten better, it is hard to tell because you don’t play on Saturdays,” said head coach John Grass at Monday’s weekly press conference. “We are looking forward to back to back weeks, we are looking forward to opening OVC play this weekend, just playing two more home games in a row is something we haven’t had a lot of recently,” said Grass.

Up next at home for the Gamecocks is Tennessee Tech, a team in which they haven’t had many issues with over the last few years. Although the Golden Eagles have started off the year with a rough patch of games against quality teams, Coach Grass isn’t letting that fool anyone. “I think they are not your typical 0 and 3 team if you look at who they have played. It has been a tough start for them, but they are doing some things fundamentally for the program that will benefit from that in the long run,” said Grass.

Linebacker Jalen Choice also touched on the importance of maintaining the momentum in which the team has carried through the beginning of the season. “I feel like everybody’s buying in to the process and we really believe in our defense now. Everybody’s trying to make the plays that they need to make, not trying to do much.”

“Seeing everything at a home game, seeing cocky, all those things, it’s a special place and it’s great to play at home,” said Grass on the impact of playing at Burgess Snow. “I think we had a packed house the other night, so we want another packed house this week. You just don’t know how much good that does our football team when you run out and the place is packed and you got an atmosphere. It’s something we’re very proud of.”

The Gamecocks kick off Saturday at 6 o’clock in what looks to be another action-packed weekend full of football.

MAYES: Gamecocks face uncharted territory with season-opening loss

Despite the Gamecock loss, the play of Quarterback Zerrick Cooper was a bright spot for JSU (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief

November 16, 2013. That was the last time that the Jacksonville State Gamecocks lost in the regular season to a non-FBS foe before Saturday night’s 20-17 heartbreaker at the hand of the defending HBCU champion North Carolina A&T.

Not since Jimmy Garoppolo, current starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, torched the Gamecocks for a 52-14 victory has JSU felt the sting of defeat to a team on their own level in a regular season, snapping a streak of 41 straight victories.

John Grass, who was the offensive coordinator at the time, says his team would much rather feel the sting of defeat now than come early December.

“I’d rather have this feeling right now than at the end of the year in the playoffs,” Grass said. “This will grow our football team.”

When you look at the laundry list of plays that didn’t go the Gamecocks’ way and consider that JSU still had a chance to win the game on its final drive, you have to agree with Coach Grass that this game will only help the team going forward.

It took an offense that struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the first half. It took 14 penalties for 149 yards, most of which occurred in the first half. It took four turnovers. It took allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown. It took a blocked kick and a missed one. It took all that to take down the Gamecocks. And JSU still had a chance to win at the end of the game.

Despite the L in the win-loss column, the positives are there. A 403-108 total yard disparity. A Defense that allowed 37 rush yards on 36 attempts. A quarterback that went 24-38 for 320 yards. A receiver that put up 147 receiving yards.

The Gamecocks are going to be fine.

When you win as much as JSU has in the past five years, a wake-up call like Saturday’s loss can be more beneficial than another convincing blowout win on national television. For the first time since 2013, JSU can carry a chip on their shoulder, using the growing national sentiment of “overrated” to fuel their quest to return to the national spotlight.

For a team as talented as JSU is, a chip on their shoulder can be a scary thing for the rest of the OVC and FCS.

I’m thinking the Gamecocks won’t waste any time starting a new streak.