Gamecocks shut out EKU for seventh straight win

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By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent

The Jacksonville State Express kept on rolling last Saturday (Oct. 31), as the top-ranked Gamecocks wasted little time in disposing of the No. 13 Colonels of Eastern Kentucky University, 34-0,  before a homecoming crowd of 21, 988 at Burgess-Snow Field.

The win marked the second year in a row the Gamecocks (7-1, 5-0) posted a shutout against an Ohio Valley Conference play opponent on homecoming. The Colonels (5-3, 4-1) came in tied with the Gamecocks and Eastern Illinois atop the league standings.

JSU dominated from the opening kickoff, holding Eastern Kentucky to 175 total yards of offense, with 39 of those coming on a run by Ethan Thomas in the second quarter. 

“Ours guys just came out ready to play,” said Jacksonville State head coach John Grass. “It’s probably the best we have played all year, especially in the first half.”

Quarterback Eli Jenkins, who engineered three first-half touchdown drives, finished with 342 total yards (324 passing, 18 rushing) and joined David Gulledge, as the only quarterbacks in Jacksonville State history to surpass 2,000 career rushing yards.

The Colonels were averaging 35.7 points per game, third-best in the OVC, but never got inside the Gamecocks’ 23 yard line and crossed mid field only twice.

The Gamecocks came out with all guns blazing with a 96-yard scoring drive on their first possession. Jenkins hooked up with Josh Barge three times on the 11-play drive, the final completion being a 14-yard screen pass to Barge for the touchdown with 7:53 left in the first quarter. 

JSU Linebacker Dawson Wells the stepped in front of an EKU pass and took the interception back 48 yards for a touchdown with 13:44 to go in the second quarter.

Connor Rouleau kicked the extra point to extend the Gamecocks’ lead to 14-0. 

The score became 21-0 less than four minutes later when Troymaine Pope scored from the Colonel 1 to finish off a seven-play, 70-yard drive. 

Rouleau tacked on JSU’s final points of the first half with a 41-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining.

Barge hauled in another Jenkins touchdown pass late in the third quarter, this one covering 26 yards, as the Gamecocks extended their lead to 31-0. Barge finished with a game high 158 yards on nine receptions. 

Rouleau’s 37-yard field goal with 5:23 left in the fourth finished off the scoring.

JSU can take another step toward a second straight OVC title next week when it travels to face Eastern Illinois (5-3, 5-0).

 

 

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