By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Thunder and lightning seem to follow Coach John Grass and his Jacksonville State football team.
Last season, the JSU at LSU game in Baton Rouge was delayed for more than an hour because of an electrical storm, and it was déjà-vu all over again last Saturday (Sept. 23) for the Gamecocks’ home opener Burgess-Snow Stadium. An intense lightning display delayed the JSU/Liberty University game for more than one hour, and the Flames probably wished this game had never gotten started as the Gamecocks snuffed out Liberty’s high-powered offense on their way to a 31-10 victory.
Liberty’s offense had no problem finding the end zone earlier in the season in wins over Baylor, Morehead State and Indiana State University, averaging close to 50 points per game. But the Flames picked the worst time to have its worst game against a strong JSU defense.
Liberty finished the game with a season low 31 yards rushing thanks mainly to some positive yardage on the Flames’ final drive. It is the first time this season the Flames were limited to fewer than 100 yards after Liberty had one running back over the century mark in each of their first three games.
The Flames relied almost exclusively on quarterback Buckshot Calvert to move the ball down the field, and Jacksonville State took advantage with key stops to eventually get its running game going in the second half. The fifth ranked Gamecocks methodically used three touchdown drives to pull away and defeat the No. 16 Flames before a Burgess Snow Field record crowd of 24,000.
JSU senior running back Roc Thomas scored on an 11-yard run early in the third quarter by dragging several Flame’ defenders the final five yards into the end zone. He then made a quick cut to the outside and scored on a 13-yard run late in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the victory. The Gamecocks had built a 10-3 lead going into the locker room at the half. Thomas rushed for 60 of his 87 yards in the second half.
JSU used two quarterbacks during the game, with Bryant Horn and Kendrick Doss each scoring a touchdown. Horn also threw an 80-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that gave the Gamecocks the lead after falling behind 3-0.
Jacksonville State kicks off its Ohio Valley Conference schedule this Saturday at Tennessee Tech.