This season just is not unfolding as the Gamecocks had planned.
Jacksonville State dropped their second contest of 2019 in Saturday’s 52-33 loss at Austin Peay. What is even bigger is that the loss came in JSU’s Ohio Valley opener, which puts them at 0-1 in conference play.
Jacksonville State (3-2, 0-1) scored only once in the first half. Late in the first quarter, Jaelen Greene punched it in on a two-yard rush. His touchdown cut the Governors lead to 10-7.
Unfortunately, as offensive woes hit for the Gamecocks in the second quarter, their defense could not buy a stop. Austin Peay (3-2, 1-0) scored three times before halftime to increase their advantage to 31-7 at the midway break.
It would get worse. Two quick touchdowns in the third put the Governors up 45-7. Jacksonville State was down, but not yet out. Quarterback Zerrick Cooper scored on an eight-yard scramble before the end of the third interval to make it 45-14. Early in the fourth, Cooper found Notre Dame transfer KJ Stepherson on a four-yard pass, and minutes later connected with Josh Pearson for a 16-yard score. After a missed two-point conversion, JSU trailed 45-27 with 6:55 left to play.
A fumble recovery touchdown for Austin Peay’s JaVaughn Craig put any hope for another late comeback to rest. Though Cooper would find Pearson for another score with under two minutes left, Jacksonville State still fell to Austin Peay 52-33.
Despite the loss, it was a banner day for JSU’s Josh Pearson. The senior wide receiver passed Gamecock legend Joey Hamilton for most touchdown receptions in school history.
Obviously, the ol’ ball coach was upset with the team’s performance. “They just kicked our rear ends. That’s all you can say,” said Head Coach John Grass. “It was just a poor performance everywhere.”
JSU has to kick it into gear if they want any shot at the playoffs this season. A second conference loss would all but throw those hopes out the window.
Their next contest will come this Saturday at Burgess-Snow Field. The Gamecocks will have their home conference opener, as they will host Tennessee State. Kickoff from Jacksonville, Ala., is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.