By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator and
Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Jacksonville State controlled the
tempo of the game and tarnished Tennessee Tech’s homecoming
game Saturday in Tucker Stadium as the Gamecocks used a balanced
attack to forge a 34-14 Ohio Valley Conference victory in front of
8,953 spirited fans.
JSU (6-2/2-2 OVC) brought its conference record back to the .500 mark with the victory, using a two-week break from action to prepare for the meeting with the Golden Eagles.
Once again Tech (3-6/0-5 OVC) got a solid defensive effort, but the offense couldn’t sustain any drives and also hurt itself with numerous penalties in a contest that featured 22 penalties for 182 yards.
Jacksonville State had 450 yards of offense, running off 84 plays from scrimmage. The Gamecocks, who rank second in the OVC in rushing, passing and total offense, had 251 yards through the air and 199 on the ground.
Tech mustered 99 passing yards and rushed for 181 yards for 280 total yards.
DaMarcus James rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries to pace JSU, and also completed a pass for 36 yards to account for 162 yards of total offense.
Starting quarterback Eli Jenkins was 7-for-11 passing for 77 yards and rushed seven times for 37 yards, including a touchdown. Kyle West, the projected starter, came off the bench to pass for 138 yards and two touchdowns, going 11-for-17.
Receivers Anthony Johnson and Josh Barge each hauled in five passes to lead JSU, which had nine different receivers catch balls.
Golden Eagle quarterback Darian Stone was the team’s leading rusher, finishing with 79 yards on 20 carries. He was sacked four times for 30 yards, preventing him from chalking up a 100-yard game despite his 109 yards gained. The junior passed for 99 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown to Krys Cates.
Sophomore Ladarius Vanlier added 62 yards on nine carries and freshman Isaiah McKinney had 24 yards on four carries in Tech’s late scoring drive.
The game features the league’s top two punters, and both had strong outings. Tech’s Chad Zinchini kicked eight times and averaged 46.1 yards per kick with a long of 58 yards. Hamish MacInness kicked five times and averaged 49.2 yards, aided by a school-record 86-yard kick that sailed with the gusting wind.
The Tech defense, which held JSU to 140 yards in the second half, was led by Tra’Darius Goff with a career-best 16 tackles. Marty Jones, the league’s leading tackler, and Bill Dillard had 10 tackles apiece. Jones’ numbers included 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
Brandon Bender was the top tackles for Jacksonville State with eight stops. Rashod Byers had six tackles and broke up three passes, while Ketrick Wolfe added five stops and an interception, the only turnover in the contest.
The Golden Eagles will travel to No. 2 Eastern Illinois next weekend, meeting the Panthers at noon on Saturday, Nov. 2, in O’Brien Stadium.
PRE GAME NOTES
- The previous two OVC Media Award winners will broadcast today's game in the forms of Mike Parris of the JSU Radio Network and Roger Ealey, the voice of the Golden Eagle Sports Network.
- JSU runningback DaMarcus James ranks fourth in the OVC in rushing and third in scoring touchdowns.
- The Gamecocks' starting quarterback, Max Shortell, is third in the league in both passing and total offense.
- Tech quarterback Darian Stone ranks sixth in the OVC in total offense and fifth in passing.
- Golden Eagle receiver Zack Ziegler is fifth in the league in receptions per game.
- TTU return specialist and runningback Ladarius Vanlier comes into the contest third in the OVC in all-purpose yards and second in kickoff return yardage.
- On the defensive side of the ball, Tech safety Marty Jones ranks first in the OVC in tackles per game and Golden Eagle linebacker Tra'Darius Goff is third.
- TTU defensive end Malcolm Mitchell is ranked fifth in the league in sacks and eighth in tackles-for-loss.
- The Golden Eagles are one of the most disciplined teams in the OVC, ranking second in fewest yards penalized per game.
- Tech punter Chad Zinchini is still ranked first in the league in punting, but he also ranks second in the FCS as well.
- For the Homecoming contest, the Golden Eagles are donned in gold pants, purple jerseys, and gold helmets.
- Today's game captains for Tech are #16 Zack Ziegler, #60 James Normand, #94 Malcolm Mitchell, and #99 Jordan Johnson.
- TTU wins today's coin toss and will defer to the second half.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES
- And we are underway as JSU returns the opening kick off to the 30-yard line.
- Nice pass break-up by Demario Donnell. He nearly comes away with the interception but will settle for holding JSU to a second-and-long.
- Jax State punter Hamish MacInnes on to for the punt. He puts it to the Tech 36-yard line and the Golden Eagles get their first possession of the game.
- Zinchini out for the Tech punt. He will boot one 54 yards into the endzone for a touchback.
- Jacksonville State gets into the endzone first as quarterback Eli Jenkins scampers for a six-yard score. JSU leads 7-0 with 4:10 to go in the first half.
- Tech takes over on its own 38-yard line after the Gamecock kicker slips on the kick off.
- The Golden Eagles will punt and Zinchini pops one 58 yards into the endzone for another touchback.
- JSU will punt and pin the Golden Eagles at their own six-yard line with 1:26 to play in the first quarter.
- At the end of the first quarter, Jacksonville State leads Tech 7-0.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES
- Zinchini on for the punt for Tech. He crushes one 45 yards into the wind and JSU will take over on its own 44-yard line.
- The Gamecocks will send kicker Griffin Thomas out for a 44-yard field goal attempt. It's good and JSU takes a 10-0 lead with 9:30 to go in the first half.
- Jacksonville State quarterback Kyle West connects with Earl Calloway on a 35-yard pass for a JSU score. The Gamecocks now lead 17-0 with 5:14 to play in the first half.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!!! Darian Stone connects with Krys Cates for a 33-yard touchdown pass and the Golden Eagles are on the board!
- The score is now 17-7 in favor of JSU with 2:06 to go in the first half.
- Jacksonville State's DaMarcus James weaves his way into the endzone for a six-yard score and the Gamecocks take a 24-7 lead with 59 seconds to play in the first half.
- At the end of the first half, Jacksonville State leads the Golden Eagles, 24-7.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES
- Golden Eagles receive the second half kickoff, which is through the end zone. Tech opens the half from its own 25. On second down, Zack Ziegler injured attempting to catch a pass. Zinchini hammers a 52-yard punt into the wind, and coverage team slams returner Gabe Chambers for a four-yard loss.
- Tech forces a punt and Vanlier backs all the way to the nince to make the catch. He nearly breaks it, getting caught at the Tech 20. MacInnes' punt was 54 yards. Golden Eagles move to the JSU 48, facing third-and-one, but a false start penalty costs a chance to convert. Zinchini called on to punt, and he delivers a 53-yard bomb that sneaks into the end zone.
- Fourth-and-two for JSU at the TEch 35, and direct snap to Damarcus James. The Golden Eagle defense stuffs the play, and turns the ball over on downs. Great job by the left side of the defense as James to break it outside. The entire team comes out to greet the defense, and the Tech sidelines appears re-energized by the stop.
- Vanlier squirts through for a 14-yard gain, then busts a 35-yard carry to the left side and suddenly the Tech offense has the ball at the JSU 16. Timeout by the Gamecocks seems to stall Tech's momentum slightly. Defensive holding gives Tech a third-down at the JSU eight, but it's no gain. Brings up fourth-and-two and JSU calls timeout. Stone tries left side and is stopped for a loss, turning the ball over on downs at the 14.
- GOlden Eagle defense forces a three-and-out, so MacInnes punts. He sails one with the wind that carries, and carries, and carries. It bounces at the 15 and trickles into the end zone. Coverage man barely misses downing it at the one, giving MacInnes a school record with an 86-yard kick.
- Ketrick Wolfe steps in front of the receiver and intercepts Stone's pass at the Tech 37, and returns it to the 31 with 1:48 remaining in the period.
- Defense holds and forces a 47-yard field goal by Griffin Thomas. The scoring drive was three plays and 13 yards in 1:01. With 24 seconds left in the third, JSU leads 27-7.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES
- Back-to-back penalties and Zinchini on to punt. His kick goes 50 yards and Brown brings it back 15 yards to the JSU 34.
- And again, the Golden Eagle defense doesn't budge, holding JSU to minus two yards and forcing a punt by MacInnes into the wind. He gets the bounce and it goes out of bounds at the TTU 29 for a 39-yard punt.
- Golden Eagle defense trying to do it again. They stuff James on third-and-one, and JSU will go for it on fourth-and-one from the Tech 43. James in direct snap formation, and Tech calls timeout with 8:44 to play. Great defensive penetration, but James slices between tackles and picks up the first down at the 41.
- The Gamecocks march 52 yards in 11 plays, with Anthony Johnson stealing the ball from Tech's defender in the end zone for the touchdown. After Griffin's PAT, the JSU lead is 34-7.
- Vanlier races from the Tech two out to the 47 for a 45-yard kickoff return.
- Jared Davis takes over at QB, and Isaiah McInney comes into the game as the runningback. McKinney has three straight carries for a first down, then a pass to Cates draws a pass interference penalty, giving Tech a first down at the Gamecock 23.
- Great fake and Jared Davis races around right side, stiff arms cornerback Jamill Lott, and dives into the end zone for a Golden Eagle TOUCHDOWN. Sharp's kick makes it 34-14 with 1:56 to play.
- Onsides kick attempt, but JSU recovers at the Gamecock 46.