The No. 8 ranked Jacksonville State Gamecocks (3-1, 1-0 OVC) won 52-28 in their OVC conference opener at Murray State (1-3, 0-1 OVC) on Sept. 27th. The Gamecocks win avenges last year’s heartbreaking 35-34 overtime loss at home. In a press conference before the Murray State game, head coach John Grass remarked:
“I think if we had a game circled on the calendar, this one is definitely the one. Our guys remember last year and it was a devastating loss for our football team. I would be shocked and disappointed if our football team is not ready to play.”
Well, there was no reason for Coach Grass to be shocked or disappointed as the Gamecocks showed up ready to play to come through with the win.
Running back DaMarcus James made his presence known with 148 yards, and three rushing touchdowns. James now has 40 rushing touchdowns in his JSU career to tie Boyce Callan for second on JSU’s career rushing touchdown list. Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins also scored three rushing touchdowns and was the most impressive offensive player. Jenkins set new career highs in rushing and passing yards. Jenkins picked up first downs when needed, and ran all over the Racers in general with 149 yards. Jenkins also had a passing touchdown and has been named the OVC Player of the Week for his outstanding performance.
The first half was fast-paced with the Murray State Racers striking first to put up seven points within the first two minutes of the game. The Gamecocks were quick to respond, scoring a touchdown on their next possession. Overall, the entire first half was an offensive shoot-out. JSU gained momentum and control when JD Williams made a pivotal 90-yard kick return to the Murray State 6-yard line. The return resulted in a James touchdown run just moments before halftime, giving the Gamecocks a 35-28 lead.
The Gamecocks dominated in the second half, putting up 17 unanswered points. Jacksonville State gained control in the 4th quarter as Jenkins tacked on his third rushing touchdown with a sweet 15-yard run. The Jenkins run put the game even further away as the final score ended 52-28.
Coach Grass stuck to a very methodical and effective running game with the Gamecock offense, which helped rack in a staggering 628 total yards. Adjustments made to the Gamecock defense brought the Racers upbeat offensive game to a much slower pace, resulting in a second half shut-out. Better defensive plays were made by the Gamecocks in the second half, allowing Murray State only 71-yards total in the second half, as opposed to the whopping 289-yards allowed in the first half alone.
JSU will now return home to host UT Martin at Burgess-Snow Field on Saturday at 3 pm. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN 3.