The Gamecocks moved the ball at will against one of the Ohio Valley Conference’s best defenses by not doing what was expected.
They changed their tendencies and racked up 503 yards of total offense and more points than they’ve ever scored in an OVC game.
They also racked up 299 yards rushing against one of the country’s best rushing defenses. They played two quarterbacks, sometimes alternating them within series — that certainly got in the Colonels’ heads.
The Gamecocks stifled one of the league’s more physical offenses by taking “educated risks” on what they thought the Colonels were going to do.
You can’t argue with the results. They held the league’s best rushing offense to 111 yards and 213 yards total — the third straight game they have held an opponent under 300 yards.
Their aggressive play produced four takeaways, a scoop-and-score by Ketrick Wolfe, and six sacks.
A record-tying field goal and a blocked punt got the Gamecocks going, and they never let up.
Griffin Thomas kicked a 52-yard field goal to open the score and Ben Endress set up JSU’s first touchdown by blocking a punt deep in Eastern Kentucky’s end.
Thomas, the NCAA FCS leader in field goals, also kicked a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter, giving him 20 this year (two off the single-season record) and 32 for his career. He had an extra point blocked for only the second time in his career, but he made the next eight.
JSU coach Bill Clark didn’t know if his assistants could work many more hours than they did last week, but the staff found a way, burning the midnight oil all week working to change the Gamecocks’ tendencies for this important game.
It’s not an easy thing to do this late in the season — they’re called tendencies for a reason — but they pulled it off.
The Gamecocks needed to play their best game of the year to have any chance Saturday and they clearly did, controlling all three phases of the game.
By winning, they put themselves squarely in the FCS playoff conversation and the way they did it will give them a of confidence going into next week’s bid to upset seemingly unstoppable Eastern Illinois.