JSU EIU action

Jacksonville State quarterback Zerrick Cooper runs by Eastern Illinois Dytarious Johnson during the JSU and EIU OVC football game. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Postgame analysis of Jacksonville State's win over Eastern Illinois:


Deep pass

The Zerrick Cooper-Josh Pearson combo is as dangerous as any in the Ohio Valley Conference — maybe even the FCS.

Pearson has caught 11 touchdown passes, which ties Josh Barge's school record of 11 in 2015. Ten have come from Cooper, and eight of the 10 have covered at least 20 yards.

When Cooper banged up his shoulder and left the game in the second half Saturday, Zion Webb showed he could launch a deep throw that Pearson could track down. They hooked up for a 23-yard touchdown about midway through the fourth quarter.

Cooper and Pearson combined for scoring throws of 31 and 35 yards. Those touchdown strikes turned a relatively close game into the blowout that was expected from this matchup.

Pearson finished with 137 receiving yards on eight catches.

Defense gets it done

Jacksonville State gave up a pair of late touchdown to Eastern Illinois and a trio of field goals.

That's not bad, coming against a team that put up at least 40 points in each of the previous four games.

Eastern Illinois had scored 27 touchdowns in its previous six games. The Panthers were averaging 34 points a game before scoring 15 against JSU.

No midseason blahs

It's that point of the season when the good teams start slumping, but Jacksonville State hasn't.

The Gamecocks haven't lost a game in October since 2013. Since a loss to Tennessee State that year, JSU has won 17 straight in October.

The Gamecocks still have games left in the month at Southeast Missouri (Oct. 20) and at Murray State (Oct. 27).


Rushing offense — C: The ground attack isn't dominant, and considering the lack of quality in Eastern Illinois' defense, this one could've been a big rushing game. Michael Matthews, Zion Webb and Zerrick Cooper each had long runs.

Rushing defense — A: JSU allowed only 15 yards on the ground. The Gamecocks are one of the best in the nation at shutting off the ground game.

Passing offense — A: Pearson wasn't the only long gainer for JSU in the passing game. Landon Rice, Trae Barry and Jamari Hester — a real threat lately — each had catches of 36 yards or more.

Passing defense — C: JSU sailed along until the fourth quarter. EIU struck for a pair of touchdown passes and 350 yards through the air.

Special teams — B: Jason Pierce did a good job with punting, and Demarcus Flowers had a 39-yard kickoff return. Daniel Byrd would've been credited with a long punt return, but a penalty nullified it.

Coaching — A: John Grass and his staff are so good at keeping their players from overlooking opponents like Eastern Illinois, which are just dangerous enough that a tipped pass or two can lead to an upset alert.

Overall — A: That's 36 straight Ohio Valley Conference wins for Jacksonville State. That's so long ago that some of the seniors on this year's team were high school juniors the last time an OVC team knocked off the Gamecocks.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.