Jacksonville State falls short at Auburn

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

An upset in college football was not to be on Saturday, as the No. 6 ranked Auburn Tigers defeated in-state foe and Football Championship Subdivision member Jacksonville State 27-20 in overtime.

The Gamecocks, ranked No. 5 in the FCS came in as five-touchdown underdogs, but took the lead twice on Saturday, including a 10-6 lead at halftime. The Gamecocks also grabbed a lead in the 4th quarter when senior running back Troymaine Pope scored a touchdown from five yards out.

That would be the final score for the Gamecocks, as Auburn would tie the game on a 51-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson to senior wide receiver Melvin Ray. Auburn scored on the first possession of overtime, on a 4-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Peyton Barber, and held the Gamecocks out of the end zone to win the game.

The Tigers came into the game ranked No. 6 in the Football Bowl Subdivision Coaches Poll. Despite the outcome of the game, they dropped in Monday’s rankings to No. 15. It was a different story in Jacksonville this afternoon, as the Gamecocks found them ranked No. 1 in the FCS STATS poll.

This is the first time in school history the Gamecocks have been ranked No. 1 in any poll. Coach John Grass told the STATS Inc. editor that polls don’t mean much. He pointed out that being ranked No. 3 heading into the playoffs last year didn’t turn out to be a good deal for the Gamecocks.

“We got beat in the second round (by Sam Houston State),” Grass said. “We’re proud to be ranked, but I know if we’re thinking about being No. 1, we’ll get beat.”

Junior quarterback Eli Jenkins led the Gamecocks offense by completing 26-of-43 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 37 yards on 18 carries. Pope led the Gamecocks ground attack with 85 yards on 21 carries.

The Gamecocks defense also forced three turnovers, including a fumble recovery by freshman defensive lineman Randy Robinson as the Tigers were looking to tie the game with almost three minutes left. The Gamecocks would punt on the ensuing drive, and Auburn scored on Ray’s touchdown to send it into overtime.

Late field goal gives SEMO win over SIU

The second time was the charm for Southeast Missouri junior kicker Ryan McCrum in a 27-24 victory over Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Saturday. The junior had missed his last three field goals, before making a 42-yard field goal with five seconds left to lift the Redhawks to victory over the Salukis.

McCrum had already missed on a 42-yarder early in the game, and also missed from 38 and 39 yards out. He did, however, make a 39-yard field goal to spark a 10 point Redhawks lead early in the first quarter.

“It definitely wasn’t my best night,” McCrum told reporters after the game. “I believe God had a plan for me and he wanted me to make that last kick. I just had to move on and block out what had previously happened.”

McCrum is 3-for-6 kicking in this season, which includes a 35-yard field goal at Missouri a week ago.

Streak ends for the Panthers

History was made in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday afternoon. Northwestern defeated Eastern 41-0, ending the Panthers streak of 139 straight games without being shutout. Eastern was last shut on October 11, 2003 by Eastern Kentucky 41-0.

Redshirt junior running back Devin Church paced the Panthers with 183 all-purpose yards, including 120 yards on kick returns. Church also had 63 yards on 11 carries to lead the Eastern rushing attack.

The Eastern defense allowed 496 yards, but did stop the Wildcats 10-of-17 times on third down conversions. The Wildcats were also 0-for-2 on 4th downs in the contest.

Sophomore safety Bradley Dewberry led the Eastern defense in tackles with 12. Junior linebacker Seth McDonald followed with 10 tackles, for his second straight week with 10 or more tackles. He had 17 a week earlier at Western Illinois.


Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]