Daniel Mayes, Chanty Sports Reporter
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.