~ Photo by Sydney Sorrells
~ Photo by Sydney Sorrells

JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville State Gamecocks lived up to their No. 1 FCS rank as they defeated the Tennessee State Tigers 48-13.

In the home opener for the Gamecocks, and Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams, a record breaking 23,413 was in attendance at Burgess-Snow Field.

The Gamecocks (2-1) put on a show in front of their home crowd and won their first OVC game of the season in pursuit to a second straight OVC Championship.

Eli Jenkins led the Gamecocks with 162 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 95 rushing yards. Troymaine Pope tacked on 93 rushing yards and Josh Clemons ran for 67 yards with one touchdown. Miles Jones ended with two rushing touchdowns and Jarren Johnson recorded one rushing touchdown.

Ruben Gonzalez led in receiving with eight catches for 109 yards. Josh Barge and Markis Merrill ended with one touchdown catch apiece.

On defense, Joel McCandless led the way with nine tackles, two for a loss, and one sack. Chris Landrum recorded six tackles. Folo Johnson had four tackles along with Dawson Wells, Brandon Bender and DeBarriaus Miller. Miller recorded an interception along with Ra’Shad Green. E.J. Moss was in on a fumble recovery, while both Landrum and Joseph Roberts forced a fumble.

After going scoreless in the first quarter, the Gamecocks put the first points on the board in the second with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins to Merrill.

A defensive stop gave JSU the ball back leading 7-0. They would go up 14-0 with 3:14 left in the first half when Jenkins found Barge in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

Green’s interception set the Gamecocks up for another touchdown right before halftime. Jones ran in from two-yards-out to extend the lead 21-0.

JSU opened the second half with a 34-yard field goal by Connor Rouleau.

TSU would then get the ball and found the end zone for their first points on an 84-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers missed the extra point so the Gamecocks led 24-6 with 11:20 left in the third quarter.

The Gamecocks didn’t respond to the Tigers score and TSU scored again when they got the ball back. Tennessee State brought the lead down to 24-13 with another touchdown pass. This left 5:57 in the third quarter.

JSU responded quickly this time and went up 30-13 with a 2-yard run from Jones.

TSU got the ball, but turned it over as Miller caught an interception to set up Clemons 1-yard touchdown run. The Gamecocks converted on a two-point conversion and went up 38-13.

Later, in the fourth quarter, Cade Stinnett converted on a 22-yard field goal to put the Gamecocks up 41-13.

The Gamecocks last touchdown came with 53 seconds left when Johnson ran in for 17 yards.

The Gamecocks dominated every phase of the game with first downs (32-9), total yards (576-208), and time-of-possession (32:15–27:45).

Next, the Gamecocks travel to play UT Martin in another OVC match-up on Sept. 26. Kick-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN3.

Marvel Robinson
Sports Editor

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