There’s just something about that home field advantage at Burgess-Snow Field.
Though the Jacksonville State Gamecocks have taken their lumps on the road this season, JSU has won each home game of 2019.
That streak continued in this past Saturday’s 31-23 win over Tennessee State.
Jacksonville State came into Saturday’s Ohio Valley Conference games heavy favorites over the 1-4 Tigers. However, the No. 20 Gamecocks had just about all they could handle early on.
Tennessee State scored the game’s first points very quickly. Senior Chris Rowland scored on a 48-yard touchdown run to shock the JSU fans.
Only minutes later Chris’s brother, Seth Rowland, found the end-zone after a 27-yard rush to give TSU a 14-0 lead. Following an Anthony Zita field goal, the Gamecocks found themselves trailing 17-0 still in the first quarter.
The scoring drought for JSU would last no longer. After a promising drive stalled, Bryant Wallace hit a 36-yard field goal to make it a 17-3 ballgame at the end of the first.
Early in the second, Jacksonville State was set up with great field position after a fumble recovery by Traco Williams. On the first play of the drive, Zerrick Cooper threw a strike to Josh Pearson to score the Gamecocks’ first touchdown of the night.
Midway through the second quarter, Tennessee State’s Zita nailed a 29-yarder to increase their lead to 20-10. Not to be outdone, JSU found a way to have a quick response. Cooper found Notre Dame transfer KJ Stepherson for a 42-yard passing touchdown to cut their deficit to 20-17, which wound up being the score at halftime.
After a mostly-uneventful start to the third quarter, Zita once more nailed a field goal- this one from 34 yards away- to give the Tigers a 23-17 advantage.
Jacksonville State kept chipping away. After a crucial 11 play, 65-yard drive, Cooper tossed a scoring pass to Pearson for their second touchdown connection of the night.
This touchdown gave the Gamecocks’ their first lead against TSU by a score of 24-23.
Michael Matthews put the game on ice in the fourth with a ten-yard touchdown run. The 31-23 lead for JSU would stay put as the Gamecocks picked up their first conference win of 2019.
Clemson transfer Zerrick Cooper played like a star against the Tigers. He completed 25 of his 39 pass attempts for 305 yards and three touchdowns. The Jonesboro, Ga., native also rushed for 44 yards and should surely be credited with sparking the rally on Saturday night.
With the win, JSU improved to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in OVC play. The Gamecocks moved up in the polls to No. 18 following the victory over the now 1-5 (0-2) Tennessee State Tigers.
Up next for the Gamecocks is this weekend’s contest at Eastern Illinois. JSU will head to Charleston, Ill., for the matchup against the long-time conference rival. EIU is winless on the season, as the Panthers sit 0-6 overall and 0-2 against OVC foes. Kickoff at Eastern Illinois is set for 1 p.m. ET/noon CT on ESPN+.