The Jacksonville State football team was able to come back from a tough loss against Southeast Missouri with a win last Saturday against Murray State with a close score of 14-12. This was JSU’s second game of the season being played in pouring rain, this particular game being the worst weather the Gamecocks have ever had to play in. The rain itself would test the Gamecocks ability to persevere and perform in any given circumstance.
This past Friday, the Jacksonville State University soccer team closed out their home slate for the year. Coming off a loss against Tennessee Tech in the previous match, the Gamecocks looked to reverse their spiraling nine game losing streak.
After a bit of a rocky start that led to Jacksonville State trailing after the first quarter, the Gamecocks recovered to blow out Murray State 59-23 for their 30th consecutive Ohio Valley Conference victory on Saturday.
The story of the game, as has become usual for Jacksonville State, was their dominant defense.
The Gamecocks held the Racers to just 153 yards of total offense and -3 rushing yards, which was a school-record low for JSU.
In this game however, the Jacksonville State offense proved to be just as dominant.
JSU marched right down the field in five plays on their opening drive, and Bryant Horn ran it in for a touchdown.
“I thought we played really well outside of turnovers,” Jacksonville State head coach John Grass said. “We’ve got to clean those up. But other than that, you have to be pleased.”
Those turnovers led to the Gamecocks’ early deficit of 13-7.
On the Gamecocks’ next drive, Horn was picked off, and Murray State immediately converted the opportunity into points with a touchdown pass from Shuler Bentley to Jordon Gandy to tie the game at 7-7. Then, Sean Rodriguez returned a JSU fumble 47 yards to make the score 13-7.
After that, the JSU offense came alive.
Horn, who got most of the playing time on the day at quarterback, threw three first half touchdown passes, a career high.
Horn found Demontez Terry for a 45-yard bomb early in the second quarter, then completed two touchdowns to Jamari Hester, with one coming just eight seconds before halftime, making the score 28-13 at the break.
On their second drive of the second half, the Gamecocks increased their lead with a Roc Thomas touchdown.
After a knee-injury scare in the first quarter, Thomas had a stellar day once again for the Gamecocks. The senior transfer from Auburn gained 138 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 attempts, good for an average of 8.1 yards per carry.
Thomas was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, his fifth such honor this season.
Thomas was the catalyst behind a vicious JSU rushing attack, which piled up 323 yards on the ground, the highest total for the Gamecocks on the season.
After two more turnovers for Jacksonville State led to two more Racer scores, the Gamecocks added three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to reach 59 points, the highest scoring output for JSU of the year.
The Gamecocks’ final two scores came after forced turnovers of their own, as a Randy Robinson-forced fumble was recovered by Darius Jackson and Charles Crawford intercepted a Murray State pass and raced down to the 15-yard line.
The Gamecocks hit the road to Martin, Tennessee next week to take on the Skyhawks of UT-Martin before returning to Burgess-Snow for their final regular season game on Thursday, November 16.
The Gamecocks’ recent struggles continued Sunday afternoon at home against the defending OVC champion Murray State, falling 3-0 to the Racers.
Within the first ten minutes of play, the Gamecocks (3-6-2, 0-3-0) fell behind a 2-0 deficit that they would not be able to overcome.
The loss to Murray State (7-1-1, 2-0-1) brings the losing skid to four in a row.
The Racers wasted no time getting on the board on Sunday, with Rebecca Kubin scoring in the fourth minute off of a blocked shot.
The goal was Kubin’s fourth of the season.
Murray State would score again just minutes later, with Harriet Withers scoring on an assist from Kubin in the eighth minute.
The goal brought Withers’ total to nine on the season.
Withers finished with six shots, four on goal.
Kubin made four shots, with two on goal.
The Racers struck again early in the second period, with Miyah Watford scoring on an assist from Withers in the 48th minute.
The Gamecocks struggled to find scoring opportunities against Murray State, tallying just four shots on goal to the Racers’ nine.
Gamecock forward Kayla Thompson contributed four of the Gamecocks’ 10 total shots, with two on goal.
Gamecock goalkeeper Caroline Robinson earned six saves, and Racer goalie Alex Steigerwald made four saves.
The Gamecocks will now look to break their losing skid and earn their first OVC win of the season with another home match this Friday, where they will host Austin Peay (7-3-1, 2-1-1) at 7 p.m. at the soccer complex.
In the 19th meeting between the two teams, Murray State (12-4, 3-0 OVC) defeated Jacksonville State (8-10, 1-3 OVC) 84-57. Murray State now leads the head-to-head series 18-1.
Darion Rackley led JSU with a career high 28 points, shooting 13/14 from the free-throw line. D.J. Felder was the only other player for JSU in double-digits. Felder rounded off with 10 points.
Jarvis Williams as the high man for Murray State with 25 points. Cameron Payne and Jeffery Moss were the other two players for the Racers in double-digits with Payne scoring 21 and Moss scoring 15. Williams also had a big rebounding game pulling down 11 rebounds with Jonathan Fairell.
Murray State shot 53 percent for field goals to Jacksonville State’s 31 percent.
Points in the paint played a big role in the Murray State win. Murray State scored 38 points in the paint to Jacksonville State’s 16.
The Racers opened with two three-pointers in their 12-2 run. Jacksonville State capitalized and was only down by three when Rackley shot a three to make the score 19-16 with 11:23 left in the first half. JSU stayed close for as long as they could until Murray State began to pull away.
Murray State went on a 7-0 run to go up 34-24 with 3:50 left in the half. By the end of the half, Murray State was up 43-30.
The second half only continued to favor Murray State as they extended their lead to the largest at 35 with 7:25 left in the game. Jacksonville State continued their troubles with shooting and just couldn’t make a comeback.
JSU was out-rebounded 49-26 in the game and shot 21 percent from three-point range.
This loss marks JSU first home loss of the season.
The Gamecocks will have a chance to redeem their home loss when they play Southeast Missouri at 8 p.m. on Jan. 14 at Pete Mathews Coliseum.