The running game provided some big moments, and so did the passing game. Both quarterbacks, Eli Jenkins and Kyle West, did some good things.
But Jacksonville State managed only one touchdown, and it came on a trick play. Running back Troymaine Pope launched a pass that Markis Merrill caught behind the North Alabama defense and raced to the end zone.
Penalties ruined another drive that reached the UNA 11 with first down.
The defense was nearly flawless in regulation, until late. North Alabama managed a 76-yard touchdown drive, then two sereis later, the Lions scored inside the final minute on a 70-yard drive.
That spoiled what had been a fantastic effort until that point. The JSU defense rebounded in overtime, however. A worn-down group limited UNA to only a field goal in the two extra periods.
Defensive back Pierre Warren and linebacker Rashad Smith looked particularly strong, as both made some major plays.
Griffin Thomas is making a bid to be the Ohio Valley Conference’s best kicker. He made five field goals to beat UNA and missed only one, which was blocked. That’s his only miss of the season in nine attempts.
He kicked a 50-yarder, which is the fifth field goal of 50 yards or longer in JSU history. He made both of his 3-pointers in overtime.
Jacksonville State is 3-0, so it’s hard to find too much fault with anything the Gamecocks’ first-year coaching staff is doing.
However, we’ll nit-pick just a bit, for the sake of argument. The offense needs to find a level of consistency. We see some great plays, but we also see some moments when the offense seems to stop itself. The JSU defense gave another solid effort, which has been a theme all year.
The only game management problem was calling a timeout in regulation, whehn JSU didn’t have one left. That resulted in a 5-yard penalty for delay of game.
JSU has won five straight games in overtime, which is an interesting little tidbit. More importantly, however, is the current squad’s unbeaten record. However, the important games don’t start for two weeks when Ohio Valley Conference play begins, and league games are when we truly can judge the Gamecocks.