In front of a sold-out crowd of more than 87,000, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks played the Auburn University Tigers in a thriller, falling 27-20 in overtime.
Eli Jenkins completed 26 pass attempts, threw for 277 yards, rushed for 37 yards, threw one touchdown, and had one interception.
Troymaine Pope averaged four yards per carry, rushed for 85 yards, and had one touchdown. Josh Clemons averaged nine yards per carry, and rushed for 36 yards.
Josh Barge received for 132 yards, with a long of 29 yards, and had one touchdown. Ruben Gonzalez received 101 yards, and had a long of 26 yards. Spencer Goffigan received for 25 yards, and had a long of 14.
Darius Jackson had eight tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Joel McCandless had seven tackles, and one interception. Brandon Bender had seven tackles, and forced one fumble. Dawson Wells had three tackles, and had one interception.
Despite kicking the ball out of bounds on the opening play, and allowing the Tigers to start from the 35-yard line, Jacksonville State played a spectacular game against the then No. 6 team in the FBS, and the second highest ranked team in the Southeastern Conference.
Auburn is now ranked No. 18 in the FBS and JSU has jumped to No. 1 in the FCS.
Jacksonville State’s defense forced the Tigers to punt on their opening drive.
Jacksonville State was then able to get the ball to Auburn’s 13-yard line on their own opening drive, including a 25-yard-pass to Ruben Gonzalez. However, three plays-for-losses by Auburn’s defense, including two sacks, forced Jacksonville State to punt unsuccessfully on fourth down.
Getting the ball back near their own end zone, the Tigers were able to march down the field, getting within Jacksonville State’s 10-yard line. The Gamecocks did not allow a touchdown, and Auburn had to settle for a field goal.
On their second series, the Gamecocks were able to find holes in Auburn’s defense. A 29-yard-pass from quarterback Eli Jenkins to Josh Barge helped Jacksonville State set up a good field goal from Connor Rouleau.
Auburn was then able to answer with a 50-yard-field-goal.
The Tigers defense tried to step up in the second quarter, but Jenkins and company were still able to get down the field with ease. The Gamecocks third drive was capped off with the game’s first touchdown. Despite having a heavy defense present and an official review, Josh Barge was able to hold on for six points.
Auburn’s offense was having a hard time with the Gamecocks defense. They were exposing major holes in the Tigers scheme. This was demonstrated no better than Jacksonville State’s Joel McCandless intercepting Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson, and running the ball back 26-yards to the Tigers’ 34-yard line.
The Gamecocks were only able to gain one yard in three downs, and Rouleau missed his second field goal of the contest.
Before half time, Jacksonville State was leading Auburn in all major categories except one.The Tigers were able to rush nine more yards than the Gamecocks.Having kicked to start the game, Jacksonville State received the ball to start the second half.
Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Gamecocks were able to get around Auburn’s 30-yard line before having to make their first punt of the day.
The Tigers came out of the locker room more focused than they had been in the first half.
They were able to make their first touchdown of the game when Roc Thomas caught a 51-yard-pass from Johnson to retake the lead.
The Gamecocks did not give up hope, though.They reached Auburn’s 10-yard line, and Rouleau was able to tie the game at 13.The Tigers did not have time to answer Jacksonville State.Dawson Wells intercepted Johnson for the second time.
The Gamecock offense was able to set up Troymaine Pope with a five-yard-rush for a touchdown.
Jacksonville State retook the lead, 20-13, with 5:38 left in regulation.Auburn fumbled on Jacksonville State’s 13-yard line, which was then recovered by the Gamecocks.Brandon Bender was charged with an unsportsmanlike penalty that pushed the Gamecocks back to the seven-yard line.
Jacksonville was not able to get anything going, and unfortunately, a lackluster punt set Auburn up on Jacksonville’s 31-yard line.
With only 39 seconds left in the game, the Tigers were able to tie the game at 20.
When Jacksonville State received the ball, the Gamecocks chose to take a knee and send the game into overtime.
Winning the coin toss, Jacksonville State elected to send their defense out on the field first.
Auburn was held to third down and four when Peyton Barber was able to rush for a touchdown.
Jacksonville State found themselves in a third down and eight situation when Auburn’s Carlton Davis was called for pass interference, which set the Gamecocks up with first down.
Once again, the Gamecocks found themselves on third down.
Jenkins was sacked on the 21-yard line, which set the Gamecocks up with a fourth down and 21, which they were not able to overcome.
Aside from Auburn rushing 165 yards to Jacksonville State’s 161, the Gamecocks lead in every major statistics during the game.
The Gamecocks will come home to Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium this Saturday, Sept. 19, to take on Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee State in the Gamecocks home-opener.
Kick-off is set for 1 p.m.