By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Jacksonville State improved to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference with a surprisingly hard-fought 40-21 win over the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles on Saturday (Oct. 8) at JSU.
The win gave JSU its 18th consecutive victory over OVC opponents.
The Gamecocks did have a couple of scares during the contest. Auburn transfer Roc Thomas went down with an injury in the first quarter and did not re-enter the game after getting hit hard on a block by a Tennessee Tech defender. Jacksonville state head coach Grass said after the game that he didn’t have an update on Thomas but that Thomas suffered a concussion.
JSU senior quarterback Eli Jenkins went down twice. The first time was during the second quarter, but he came back in the game on the following possession. Jenkins also was hit in the third quarter. He eventually got up and ran off the field under his own power but did not play another down.
“It was just a little stinger,” Jenkins said. “It was nothing much.”
Jenkins should go over 10,000 total career yards milestone early in his next game. He is 41 yards from this elite plateau.
Jacksonville State led 17-0 after the first quarter behind redshirt senior running back Josh Clemons’ two touchdowns. The University of Kentucky transfer had 112 yards on 24 carries and a game-high three touchdowns.
Jacksonville State held a 33-7 lead at the half, then cruised to the win from that point on. The game was never in doubt for the Gamecocks.
“Defensively, we couldn’t have played much better outside of one drive that was aided by two penalties,” said Grass. “Their quarterback didn’t have a long time to throw the ball. We were able to get to him quickly, and that prevented their receivers from making double moves against us.”
Tennessee Tech (2-4, 2-2) had trouble moving the ball offensively, which helped seven of the Gamecocks’ 14 drives start in Golden Eagle territory. JSU took advantage of that good field position and scored 24 points on those drives.
JSU had 446 yards of offense. Jenkins finished the game 10 of 16 in passing for 157 yards and added 80 yards on the ground with one touchdown. Jamari Hester hauled in two passes for 52 yards. Krenwick Sanders had two catches for 51 yards.
Josh Barge had three receptions for 32 yards, giving him 43 straight games with a catch for his career. He is one game from tying Samford’s Jeff Moore, who holds the OVC record.
The Golden Eagles managed just 229 yards of offense in the game. They had 62 yards rushing and 167 passing. JSU has yet to give up 100 yards on the ground against a non-FBS opponent this season. The Gamecocks will try to make it 19 straight conference wins at home this week against Austin Peay.