Daniel Mayes, Chanty Sports Reporter
The streak is safe.
Despite a slow start by Jacksonville State that led to the first halftime deficit for the Gamecocks in a conference game in nearly four years, JSU recovered to defeat Eastern Illinois 30-14 for their 28th consecutive OVC victory.
A big second half from Bryant Horn and the JSU offense allowed the Gamecocks to fend off the early Panther upset bid on Saturday, Oct. 21.
The Gamecock offense struggled to move the ball early in the game, then a turnover gave EIU an opportunity. After a 16-yard rush, Roc Thomas was stripped of the ball, and the Panthers recovered.
Seven plays later, EIU QB Bud Martin found Darshon McCullough for a 40-yard catch and run that gave the Panthers their first touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Kendrick Doss replaced starting quarterback Bryant Horn on the ensuing Jacksonville State drive, and the Gamecocks managed to answer, with Tramel Terry running it into the end zone from five yards out. Jacksonville State failed on a two-point conversion attempt to leave the score at 7-6.
With 84 yards on the ground, Terry lead the Gamecocks in rushing in relief of Thomas, who was limited to just eight carries.
After EIU scored once again to make the tally 14-6, Jacksonville State’s next two drives stalled and ended in field goal attempts.
On the first, Cade Stinnett’s 49-yard attempt bounced off the left upright and down to the turf. No good.
Stinnett got another chance and made the most of it, as his 50-yarder hit the left upright but bounced through, making the score 14-9 and setting a new career-long for the junior.
The 14-9 score held at the halftime break, marking the first time JSU trailed to an OVC foe at the halfway point since their last conference loss on Nov. 16, 2003, when EIU defeated the Gamecocks 52-14.
Jacksonville State came out of the halftime locker room looking like a team that was not ready to end their streak just yet.
Reggie Hall, who returned Saturday after missing three games with injury, picked off a Bud Martin pass on the first drive of the half, and the Gamecock offense went to work.
A seven play drive ended in a 34-yard strike from Bryant Horn to Krenwick Sanders, and the Gamecocks finally had their first lead after Stinnett’s PAT mad the score 16-14.
Against EIU, the quarterback carousel seemed to stop rotation on Horn, who capitalized with a big game.
Horn, who played all but one drive, completed 15 of his 27 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns while chipping in 63 rushing yards.
Horn found Sanders once again for a second touchdown, this time on a 5-yard fade route, to make the score 23-14 late in the third quarter.
The two receiving touchdowns and five receptions were both career-highs for the Wisconsin transfer.
Late in the fourth, De’Marcus Flowers dashed in from 20 yards out for his first career rushing touchdown to ice the game at 30-14.
The Gamecocks look to secure their 29th consecutive OVC victory on Saturday, Oct. 28 against Southeast Missouri State.
The game, which is Jacksonville State’s Homecoming contest, will kickoff at 3 p.m. on Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.