JACKSONVILLE – Alabama got the best of Florida in the first-ever football battle of the Jacksonvilles.
Jacksonville State improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2010 with a 48-13 win over Jacksonville University Saturday night at Burgess-Snow Field before a crowd of 17,592. The Gamecocks extended their winning streak in home openers to eight as a school record four players – Troymaine Pope, Eli Jenkins, DaMarcus James and Miles Jones – each ran for more than 100 yards.
Jacksonville State finished with 523 yards rushing on 70 attempts, shattering the previous team rushing record of 453 yards set against Samford in 2004. Pope finished with a career-high 160 yards (and three touchdowns), sophomore Jones ran for 138, Jenkins had 128 and James finished with 105.
The Gamecocks broke open a tight game by scoring 17 points in the first 6½ minutes of the second half. JSU put 45 points on the scoreboard in a 26-minute span during the second and third quarters.
Head coach Bill Clark became the seventh Jacksonville State coach to win his home debut.
“When the running game got going, we really didn’t look back and we only made a few adjustments on defense,” Clark said. “I saw our guys play awfully hard tonight, and I’m proud of special teams.”
Pope scored on runs of 5 and 3 yards and James added a 2-yard run as the Gamecocks built a 21-10 halftime lead.
The Dolphins’ hopes of a rally evaporated in the first three minutes of the third quarter. JSU moved 63 yards in five plays after the second-half kickoff with Griffin Thomas kicking a 36-yard field goal to extend the Gamecocks’ lead to 24-10.
Jacksonville (0-2) moved near midfield on the ensuing possession. But Dolphins quarterback Kade Bell, son of Jacksonville coach and former University of Florida star Kerwin Bell, was picked off byPierre Warren, who returned the interception 70 yards for a JSU touchdown with 12:02 left in the third.
“When I saw the ball come my way … I knew I wasn’t going to be tackled,” said the junior from Marbury. “My defensive players had a nice little convoy set up for me. That was an easy six.”
The onslaught continued when JSU’s Ben Endress broke through to block a Jacksonville punt. Jenkins’ second rushing touchdown, a 9-yarder, gave the Gamecocks a 38-10 lead at the 8:30 mark of the third quarter.
Pope later ran in from the 4 with 3:28 left in the third for a 45-10 JSU lead.
Thomas kicked a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for JSU’s final points.
Jacksonville took the fight to the Gamecocks early, driving 40 yards in eight plays midway through the first quarter.
Bell completed passes of 13 and 14 yards as the Dolphins drove deep into JSU territory. He capped the drive with a pass to Dorian Guy on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Dylan Lynch’s PAT gave Jacksonville a 7-0 lead with 6:51 left in the first.
Next up for Jacksonville State is the renewal of its rivalry with Division II North Alabama. Kickoff for the game between the former Gulf South Conference foes is set for 7 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field.
“I’m glad we’re at home, but (UNA) has my total respect,” Clark said. “They’ve won tons of games and we better be ready.
“I told our guys, ‘This is a longtime rivalry game and there is a lot of history here.’ It’s a big deal to our fans and it’s a big deal to us.”
courtesy: JSU Media Relations