Jacksonville State loses to Kentucky 38-14
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)
Jacksonville State has had quite a bit of success each of the last two years in what coach Jack Crowe calls ''play-up'' games.
It wasn't so Saturday.
The Gamecocks held even with Kentucky for most of the first quarter before the Wildcats broke out for a 38-14 win.
Jacksonville State (5-2) seemed to carry a bit of momentum into a late-first quarter drive after recovering a Kentucky fumble near the red zone. But with 3:33 left in the first, safety Martavius Neloms sacked Jacksonville State quarterback Coty Blanchard, forced a fumble and ran it back 40 yards for the game's first score.
It was the first of three straight Kentucky (3-4) touchdowns that put the play-up game out of reach. The Gamecocks won their sole game against an FBS team last season, a 49-48 double-overtime win over Ole Miss; in 2009, they took Florida State to the last minute before losing 19-9 in 2009.
''These games have to be played a certain way when you play up,'' Crowe said. ''If you let it become about mistakes, then this is the result you get. They are an SEC team, they have SEC players, they deserve all the credit. But we definitely had our moments when we proved that we could play on this field.''
The Wildcats were able to break out after a bye week, earning a season-best 445 yards of total offense and 340 yards on the ground despite missing their two primary tailbacks.
Sophomore Raymond Sanders left in the first quarter with an ankle injury after two carries for 10 yards. Freshman Josh Clemons, the Wildcats' leading rusher on the season, had already been ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
That left junior CoShik Williams, the third-stringer, and he didn't waste his opportunity. He finished with 148 yards, topping his previous best by over 50 yards.
Williams' previous career best was 95 yards, set last season against Charleston Southern.
''I really think all of our hard work over the past two weeks is what did it for me,'' Williams said. ''We totally redid our mentality of how we practiced. That let me and everyone else just go out there and play well and play focused.''
Jacksonville State's lone offensive score was a 22-yard pass from Blanchard to Alan Bonner in the second quarter but even then, the Gamecocks were already down 21-7. The Gamecocks' other touchdown came on Gabriel Chambers' 99-yard kickoff return touchdown with 14:38 left in the fourth quarter to make the game 31-14.
Blanchard finished 11-of-32 for 112 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Washaun Ealey rushed for 120 yards for the Gamecocks. He ran for 157 yards and five touchdowns against the Wildcats last year for Georgia before transferring to Jacksonville State in the spring.
A year after Ealey was featured on the Commonwealth Stadium field, it wasn't so on Saturday.
''There is a formula to win these games,'' Crowe said. ''We came here with that formula in mind, but it's one that you don't help them and take advantage of their mistakes. And neither of those happened.''