By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
For the second week in a row it appeared to be deja vu all over again for the Jacksonville State football team.
The No. 4 rated FCS team in America was going up against a bigger, stronger FBS team last Saturday (Sept. 17), although the final results were a little different.
The local boys reached down and notched an impressive 27-26 win against a Coastal Carolina team from Myrtle Beach, S.C., that is more than likely headed for a bowl game. Much like against LSU on Sept. 10, this game was surrounded by controversy and actually extended by one untimed down for No. 17, Coastal Carolina. The difference in the game was the outcome with JSU taking a one-point win.
“This was a bizarre game,” said JSU head coach John Grass. “It was just about as bizarre as the ending. We had chances during the game to put it away, but we just didn’t do that. Really, Coastal Carolina is the second FBS team we’ve played. They’ve moved up to 75 scholarships and join the Sun Belt next year. You can tell they’re a really talented team. Not many teams in the country have won as many games in the last few years as they have, so they’re a really good, quality opponent.”
Jacksonville State got back into the win column but the Chanticleers made the Gamecocks work for it, even after time ran out. With only one second remaining and a 27-26 lead, JSU stopped Coastal Carolina’s attempt to reach the end zone by lateraling to the nearest teammate several times.
The Gamecocks took the field to celebrate and shake hands, but head coach John Grass did not join them. He met with officials as they told him one referee had inadvertently blown a whistle on the last play. The officials cleared the field and summoned the Chanticleers back from the locker room. The Chanticleers took the snap on their own 41-yard line. This time, there were no laterals and there was no completion, as Darius Jackson sacked quarterback Tyler Keane for the game-ending play.
Coastal Carolina kept the game close the entire contest with its size and speed. The high-powered JSU offense was unable to get going because quarterback Eli Jenkins was unable to run a zone-read option for most of the game. Instead, the Gamecocks used straight handoffs. When JSU finally went to the zone read, the Gamecocks were able to move the football, including scoring the game winner by Jenkins with six minutes remaining in the game.
Jenkins completed 18 of 34 passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdown passes were to Demontez Terry for completions of 44 and 40 yards.
Jenkins also ran for a 14-yard touchdown in the final quarter and finished with 111 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Roc Thomas led the way on the ground with 144 yards on 25 carries but failed to find the end zone. Josh Clemmons ran for just 38 yards, but he did cross the goal line from 11 yards out.
JSU (2-1) travels to Lynchburg, Va., on Saturday (Sept. 24) to take on Liberty.