The Gamecocks broke out one of them in the first quarter Saturday and it paid off in a game-tying touchdown.
Working for the 3, Telvin Brown came back around on the reverse, took a flip and then lofted a left-handed toss to tight end Gavin Ellis standing all alone in the back of the end zone. It tied the game at 7-7.
“We kind of saved that play for a goal-line situation,” Brown said. “Basically, it’s just a reverse coming to me. I draw a lot of attention to myself. People don’t think I can throw left-handed so I just flipped it up there to Gavin.”
Brown became the seventh JSU player to complete a pass this season and fifth to throw a touchdown pass. Ellis had one catch on the season coming into the game, but former NFL general manager Gil Brandt believes the senior has a shot to have an NFL impact.
Clark said the play was expected to work because the Gamecocks practice it every day.
“We felt like we had to have it,” he said. “We have multiple 2-point plays and we work it every single day. You hope it works as much time as we put into it. You’ve got the reverse and the pass off it that’s really hard to defend. We work the nuances every day.”
In addition to his throw, Brown led all JSU receivers with eight catches (for 87 yards).
It used to be the talk about the Ohio Valley Conference and postseason play was about when the OVC was going to win a game.
Now, folks might be wondering when the league will field an FCS national champion.
After going 13 years without winning an FCS/I-AA playoff game, the OVC put two teams in the national quarterfinals this year.
Eastern Illinois lost to Towson on Friday night. Jacksonville State fell to Eastern Washington on Saturday.
It’s been a breakout year for the league. This year marked the first time it had three teams with 10 wins or more and the first time it has won four playoff games in a year.
“We can’t lose track of the fact that this has been a phenominal year for OVC football and it’s helped change our football culture,” conference commissioner Beth DeBauche said. “As a result of this year our expectation level has changed and we’re going to carry that into next year and expect even more.
“Just a few years ago we would have been happy to have one or two teams in. Now were disappointed that we didn’t (go farther than this). That’s what it should be.”
If Jacksonville State and EIU had both won this weekend, they would have met in the semifinals, guaranteeing the OVC of having a team in the FCS championship game for the first time since Eastern Kentucky won it in 1982.
The week before, EIU beat OVC member Tennessee State in the second round.
“That’s a good problem we want to have,” DeBauche said. “We want our OVC teams winning and playing one another to contend for the national championship. We’re just so immensely proud of what’s going on in this league. … It’s exciting for our future.”
The Gamecocks set numerous team records during the season.
They scored 528 points, scored 65 touchdowns, gained 3,033 passing yards, had 3,604 rushing yards. Their 6,637 yards of total offense is nearly a mile more than any other team in school history.
Individually, running back DaMarcus James finished with 1,477 yards rushing and 29 rushing touchdowns. Griffin Thomas finished the year with 24 field goals.
Freshman receiver Josh Barge caught six passes Saturday for 95 yards, pushing his freshman records to 58 catches and 877 yards. Both figures are third on the school’s all-time single-season lists.
“I’m just super proud of my guys and what they’ve done for us to get here and how well they’ve played in the playoffs,” JSU coach Bill Clark said. “I think it was so evident tonight how hard they fought and how much they believed.”