JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – The final regular season home game in a season that started seven months ago saw No.7 Jacksonville State’s FCS-best win streak come to an abrupt halt at seven in a dragged 13-10 Ohio Valley Conference loss to Austin Peay.
The Gamecocks (7-2, 4-1 OVC) committed six turnovers and were penalized a season-high 18 times for 126 yards as the Governors won at Burgess-Snow Field for the first time since 1979. It was JSU’s lowest scoring total since a 17-7 loss to Kennesaw State in the 2017 FCS playoffs.
Composed Jacksonville State head coach John Grass kept it light during an after game press conference regarding the hard loss. “We’ve just got to put this one behind us and move forward,” he said. “We’re still playing outstanding defense. We’ve got all our goals still ahead of us if we can beat EIU next week and then go beat Murray State. You’re just not going to win a game with six turnovers. Penalties helped them a lot on their two scoring drives. As poorly as we played, we still had a chance to win the football game.”
Austin Peay won despite gaining only 51 total yards and failing to convert on third down in the second half. The Governors were limited to 27 yards on 29 carries, the third straight opponent the Gamecocks’ defense held to less than 30 yards on the ground.
Jacksonville State quarterback Zion Webb struggled all afternoon, completing just 9 of 26 passes for 111 yards while throwing four interceptions. Josh Samuel accounted for 152 scrimmage yards with 89 yards rushing and two receptions for 63 yards.
The Gamecocks outgained Austin Peay 259-238, their fewest total yards in the 2020-21 season. Four first-half turnovers and 12 penalties resulted in the Gamecocks trailing the 2019 OVC champions 13-7 at intermission.
Webb, who had never thrown more than one interception in a game during his college career, was picked off on three consecutive series during the second quarter, and Pat Jackson lost a fumble in the first as the Gamecocks’ offense struggled to find their rhythm.
An on-and-off first quarter saw both teams score touchdowns on lengthy opening drives, then struggle to establish any momentum as the referees whistled 11 penalties (JSU 6, APSU 5) for a combined 85 yards.
Samuel was the engine on the first series, catching a 48-yard screen from Webb to take Jacksonville State deep into Austin Peay territory. Samuel scored on a three-yard run two plays later – his fourth rushing touchdown to the 2020-21 season.
Austin Peay answered with a five-play touchdown drive of its own, assisted by three penalties against the Gamecocks.
Freshman quarterback Draylen Ellis moved the Governors 75 yards with five passing plays, finishing it off with a 38-yard strike to DeAngelo Wilson. The two-point conversion try failed, leaving Jacksonville State with a 7-6 edge with 11:18 remaining in the first. Webb’s first intercepted pass led to Austin Peay’s scoring drive.
The Governors used up more than seven minutes and ran 20 plays to take a 13-7 lead midway through the second quarter. Ahmaad Tanner finished off the 75-yard drive with a one-yard dive and Cole Deeds kicked the extra point as Austin Peay gained its first lead.
Alen Karajic kicked a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter for Jacksonville State’s only second-half score. Nicario Harper and Jamias Presley were JSU’s top tacklers with seven apiece. Harper’s third interception of the season in the first quarter halted a Governors’ scoring threat.
Jacksonville State faces an abbreviated week of preparation as it gets ready to travel to Eastern Illinois on Saturday. Kickoff at O’Brien Field is scheduled for 1 p.m. CDT and the game will be available on ESPN+ for subscribing fans.