Gamecocks beat UTC in overtime, head to third round


By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent

The Jacksonville State Express continued to roll on Saturday (Dec. 5), as the Gamecocks defeated Tennessee-Chattanooga, 41-35 in overtime at Burgess-Snow Field.

The Mocs rallied from a 14-point second half deficit to force the extra session. UTC threw an interception in the end zone in the extra period, however, and JSU junior quarterback Eli Jenkins eventually scored on a 14-yard run for the victory.

“It was the same plays we’ve been running all game, and they weren’t able to stop it,” said Jenkins. “I just followed my blocks and was fortunate to get in the end zone.”

It was the third meeting over the last two seasons for the schools and the second time a game has gone into overtime.

“That was just a classic game,” said Jacksonville State head coach John Grass. “These were two great teams, two really good programs. I take my hat off to our guys for finding a way to win down the stretch when our backs were against the wall.”

The top-ranked Gamecocks (11-1) host No. 8 Charleston Southern (10-2) on Friday (Nov. 11).

JSU complied 640 yards of total offense. Jenkins had 208 yards passing and 195 yards on the ground with three rushing scores, while Ruben Gonzalez had 101 yards on five catches.

The Gamecocks fell behind early only to explode for a 21-7 lead late in the first half. The Mocs (9-4) added a late score to pull to within 21-14 at intermission. 

The hosts saw their 28-14 lead turn into a 35-28 deficit in the second half. But Troymaine Pope, who had 234 yards and three rushing touchdowns, broke off a 75-yard run with 4:40 to play to tie the game at 35.

In the extra period, the Gamecocks’ Brandon Bender intercepted Jacob Huesman’s pass intended for Derrick Craine. On the ensuing JSU possession, Jenkins carried twice, including the game-winner. 

“It’s not an advantage to either team to play each other twice, but it’s a difficult task to beat a team twice, especially when both are quality teams,” said Grass.

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