The last FCS team to defeat Jacksonville State: Sam Houston State. The last team to defeat Sam Houston State: Jacksonville State.
The two met in Round 2 of the FCS Playoffs last year when the Bearkats ended the Gamecocks’ season. The rematch was Saturday at JSU Stadium in the FCS semifinal with a trip to the national championship game on the line.
The Gamecocks took no chances and left no doubt this year as they poured on eight touchdowns and forced four turnovers on their way to a 62-10 win.
Top-seeded JSU will play No. 3-seed North Dakota State on Jan. 9 in Frisco, TX. The Bison are looking for their fifth straight national title.
"Outstanding performance, that's the only way I can sum it up. It's great to be sitting here after a win like that. I don't think we could've played much better." said JSU second-year head coach John Grass.
JSU (13-1) used four turnovers to build an early lead on the Bearkats (12-4). On the opening kickoff, JSU jarred the ball loose from the return man and drove it 35 yards to the end zone.
The opening scoring drive was capped off by a one-yard run by quarterback Eli Jenkins.
The Kats answered with a promising drive before EJ Moss recovered a Jeremiah Briscoe fumble. Troymaine Pope took advantage of that turnover and ran 62-yards to the end zone.
The Kats’ next drive ended with another Briscoe fumble and Conner Rouleau entered the game to give JSU a 17-0 lead with his 36-yard field goal.
JSU built a 31-0 lead before SHSU managed to score midway through the second quarter, but it almost turned into another turnover. The Kats fumbled into the end zone and managed to fall on it before the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks wanted to answer with another touchdown on the ensuing drive but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Rouleau.
Defensive back Rashod Byers managed to intercept a Briscoe pass right before halftime and dashed across field twice in an attempt to make it to the end zone. He was tackled at the SHSU seven yard line, but Pope punched it in on the next play to give JSU a 41-7 lead.
SHSU’s final score came on a 51-yard field goal with just seconds left to play in the first half.
Jenkins connected with Ruben Gonzalez for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. It was the second time the two teamed up on a score. The first came on a 12-yard pass in the second quarter.
"It's a great opportunity and we're blessed to be in this situation. The coaches have been talking about Frisco (Texas) since we lost to Sam Houston (State) last year. We've been preparing for this day. We wanted this game and came out and showed the world we were the most physical team on the field today. It's just great. We played good, but I feel like we can play better. I'm just happy to be in this situation." Jenkins said.
Jenkins finished with 247 yards and two touchdowns on 17 completions and 23 attempts. He also rushed for 43 yards on 13 carries.
Pope led the rushing attack with 181 yards and two touchdowns on 21 attempts.
Miles Jones was right behind him with 71 yards and two scores of his own. He scored on a three-yard run in the first half and a three-yard run in the second half.
Backup quarterback Christian Lemay took over for Jenkins in the final quarter and ran for a 13-yard touchdown.
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