JSU football: Running game made Saturday win a 'special night'
by Al Muskewitz
Sep 08, 2013 | 4049 views |  0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacksonville State running back Troymaine Pope rushed for three touchdowns Saturday. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
Jacksonville State running back Troymaine Pope rushed for three touchdowns Saturday. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
JACKSONVILLE -- Bill Clark had long-time Jacksonville State fans waxing nostalgic with the game he called in the Gamecocks’ home opener, but don’t look for it to become the predominant way of moving the ball this season.

It was an all-out ground assault in the 48-13 victory over Jacksonville University Saturday, but it could just as easily be through the air next week and beyond – if the Gamecocks can get some things straightened out in their passing game.

“I think our package is so encompassing,” Clark said. “I think we can be a passing team, we can be a running team. We have a pretty comprehensive package to be what we want to be.

“It’s what are they giving us and taking advantage of it.”

The Gamecocks certainly took advantage of the non-scholarship Dolphins not being able to stop their running game.

JSU set a school record and made FCS history by producing four 100-yard rushers in a 523-yard attack that elevated them to the No. 3 ranked rushing team in the nation this week (324.5 yards per game). Only Youngstown State (363.0) and Portland State (325.0) rank ahead of them.

Running backs Troymaine Pope (160), Miles Jones (138) and DaMarcus James (105) and quarterback Eli Jenkins (128) all went over 100 – Miles had 102 in the fourth quarter -- and shared OVC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the effort. Jenkins was Newcomer of the Week.

The Gamecocks were the eighth team in Division I history to produce four 100-yard rushers in the same game and the first in the FCS. They averaged a whopping 7.5 yards per their record 70 carries.

Each of the three running backs had one run of at least 35 yards. Jones had seven runs of 10 yards or more. Pope, now 20 yards shy of his 2012 season total, had six and Jenkins had five.

Amazingly, the Gamecocks had only two penalties in the game -- and neither was on the offense.

“It was a special night for our guys; a special night for them to get recognized and be in the history books,” Clark said.

As impressive as the Gamecocks (2-0) were on the ground against the Dolphins (0-2), they lacked execution in the passing game. Starting quarterback Max Shortell and Jenkins were a combined 7 of 15 through the air for 45 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.

At halftime both quarterbacks had a negative passer rating. As it turned out, they finished with a 45.20 rating for the game. Shortell was over 150 in the opener, demonstrating the Gamecocks can throw it well when they execute, but they weren’t able to exploit certain coverages Saturday.

“As pleased as we were with the run game, we were disappointed with some of our throws,” Clark said. “I think we got a running game going like we knew it could, but there are some things in the passing game we’ve got to get better at.

“We told Max we may need to throw for 500 one game. We want to always be able to run the ball, (but) we don’t know what it’s going to be that night or how it’s going to unfold. We want to have enough passing to do that. It may not be so much 50-50, but whatever we’re getting that night.”

Because of the way he played Saturday, Jenkins will be have the lead on starting this week against Division II North Alabama.

“That’s not saying that won’t change during the week,” Clark said. “Right now, (Jenkins) was the guy who played the best in that game, he’s the guy. Like Eli didn’t get his feelings hurt last week (when Shortell replaced him), Max is not going to get his hurt; that’s how we play.

“The only way you’d get your feelings hurt is if we don’t give you an opportunity to show who you are in practice or in the game.”

Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.

Four 100-yard rushers in same game

Arizona State vs. Arizona, Nov. 10, 1951: Bob Tarwater 140, Harley Cooper 123, Duane Morrison 118, Buzz Walker 113

Texas vs. SMU, Nov. 1, 1969: Jim Bertelsen 137, Steve Worster 137, James Street 121, Ted Koy 111

Alabama vs. Virginia Tech, Oct. 27, 1973: (Jimmy Taylor 142, Wilbur Jackson 138, Calvin Culliver 127, Richard Todd 102

Army vs. Montana, Nov. 17, 1984: Doug Black 183, Nate Sassaman 155, Clarence Jones 130, Jarvis Hollingsworth 124

Nebraska vs. Baylor, Oct. 13, 2001: Thunder Collins 165, Dahrran Diedrick 137, Eric Crouch 132, Judd Davies 119

Nevada vs. San Jose State, Nov. 8, 2009: Vai Taua 144, Colin Kaepernick 115, Mark Lampford 114, Luke Lippincott 112

Arkansas State vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Aug. 31, 2013: David Oku 124, Fredi Knighten 101, Michael Gordon 102, Sirgregory Thornton 112

Jacksonville State vs. Jacksonville University, Saturday: Troymaine Pope 160, Miles Jones 138, Eli Jenkins 128, DaMarcus James 105

Source: OVC/NCAA
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