Courtesy of Jacksonville State Athletics
MARTIN, Tenn. – The Jacksonville State football team jumped out to an early lead and never looked back on Saturday, when the Gamecocks went wire-to-wire for a 30-20 win at UT Martin.
The third-ranked Gamecocks (6-0, 3-0 Ohio Valley Conference) never trailed for the first time in six games before stretching their winning streak to 10 games and claiming their ninth-straight win on the road. The 10-game stretch is the longest in the nation at the FCS level and ties for the fourth-longest in school history. The win also improved JSU to 26-6 all-time against the Skyhawks (2-4, 2-2 OVC) and 11-3 in Martin.
JSU turned its attention to the ground as they improved to 6-0 for the first time since 2004 and extended the OVC’s longest win streak since 1999. The Gamecocks ran for 172 yards on 38 carries, led by junior Calvin Middleton’s 97 yards on 15 touches. The native of Acworth, Ga., also scored his first touchdown since the season opener, a 31-yard run up the middle in the third quarter.
Senior Jamal Young ran for 24 yards on eight carries and caught one pass for a 12-yard touchdown. The Jackson, Miss., native’s catch from junior Marques Ivory was his third in 2010, the most by a JSU running back since the Gamecocks moved to Division I in 1995.
The Gamecocks got 91 yards and a score on 7-of-12 passing from Ivory, while freshman Coty Blanchard completed one of his seven passes for a four-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Denzel Cheeks. The catch was the first of Cheeks’ career and made him the 13th Gamecock to catch a pass this season. Junior James Shaw hauled in a team-high three catches for 32 yards and a score.
The Skyhawks used 338 passing yards by Derek Carr to outgain the Gamecocks, 427-267. Carr completed 31 of his 50 passes for two scores and an interception, as JSU was outgained for the third-straight week.
Jason McNair was Carr’s favorite target, as the two connected on nine passes for 57 yards, but Jarvis Perry made the most out of his six catches. The junior’s career-high in receptions led to 122 yards, also a career best.
Junior Jamison Wadley and senior Antonio Bonner each recorded six tackles to lead the Gamecock defense. Wadley, a native of Gadsden, Ala., had a sack and another tackle for a loss to spark a JSU front that recorded three sacks and six tackles in the backfield on the afternoon. Sophomore Keginald Harris had an interception that he returned 45 yards, the fourth pick of the season for the native of Town Creek, Ala.
Josh Bey’s 12 tackles led the Skyhawks’ defense.
The Gamecocks jumped out to an unusual early lead, thanks to a 12-yard screen pass from Ivory to Shaw that gave JSU a 7-0 advantage. Jax State’s first touchdown of the season on its opening possession capped a seven-play, 55-yard drive and came just 3:35 into the game.
They added three more just five minutes later on a 22-yard field goal by James Esco. The sophomore from Leesburg, Ga., split the uprights with 6:18 on the first-quarter clock to polish off a 47-yard drive that took eight plays and ate just under four minutes off of the clock.
UTM used a 42-yard kick from Cody Sandlin on the first play of the second quarter to cut the JSU lead to 10-3. After a defensive stop on the ensuing possession, the Skyhawks got three more on a 21-yard field goal by Sandlin with 9:28 to play in the half. The drive, which was started by a 61-yard pass from Carr to Perry, stalled at the JSU two after a defensive stand by the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks stretched the lead to 16-6 on their next drive, one that started with a 27-yard run by Blanchard and ended with a four-yard pass form Blanchard to Cheeks. The first career reception by the sophomore from Swainsboro, Ga., was the seventh play of the 62-yard scoring drive. UTM’s Karlos Jones blocked the Esco point after attempt to leave the deficit at 16-6 with 6:46 to play in the half.
Harris set up JSU’s next score with a interception of Carr that he returned 45 yards to the Skyhawks’ 27. A Personal foul on UTM set the Gamecocks up at the 12-yard line, from where Ivory found Young three-plays later in the back of the end zone. Esco’s kick gave JSU a 23-6 lead with just 41 seconds to play before the half.
JSU picked up where it left off in the second half, using a three-play stop on defense to set up a 31-yard touchdown run up the middle by Middleton. The run capped a three-play drive that covered 40 yards and gave the Gamecocks a 30-6 lead with 11:41 to play in the third.
The Skyhawks used a big play to cut into the JSU lead late in the third, thanks to a 42-yard pass from Carr to Bryant Milligan. UTM’s first touchdown of the day cut the JSU lead to 30-13 with 3:03 remaining in the quarter.
UTM got another score with 5:39 to play on a Daniel Chamberlain catch from six yards out. Carr’s second touchdown pass of the day went through linebacker Rodney Garrott’s hands and found Chamberlain’s in the end zone to cut the JSU lead to 30-20. UTM would get a stop and force the Gamecocks to punt, but its offense couldn’t put together another drive.
The Gamecocks will return home next week to begin a two-game homestand. They will host Tennessee State at 3 p.m. on Saturday before wrapping up the homestand on Oct. 23 against Austin Peay on Homecoming.