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JSU notebook: Traco goes down; drops and kicking kills Gamecocks

JSU UTM action

Jacksonville State’s John Grass during the JSU at UT Martin OVC football game in Martin, Tennessee. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

MARTIN, Tenn. — Jacksonville State field safety Traco Williams left Saturday's 22-17 loss in the second quarter after putting a hit on Tennessee-Martin wide receiver Colton Dowell and did not return.

Rolling on the ground, Williams grabbed at his lower right leg. JSU players took a knee around him, and he was helped off the field.

Williams was seen walking on the sideline later in the second quarter. JSU coach John Grass said Williams has a knee injury of undetermined severity.

“We’ll just have to get an X-ray or MRI,” he said. “I don’t know what it is right now. He couldn’t come back in the game.”

Williams entered Saturday’s game as JSU’s third-leading tackler with 53. His seven tackles for loss ranks second on the team, and he has a team-high three of JSU’s seven interceptions on the season.

Redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Harris is Williams’ backup. Redshirt sophomore Stevonte Tullis and freshman Hudson Petty saw action on the back end Saturday.

Also leaving the action on Saturday was tight end/H-back Dakota Chapman, who limped off the field after an early-fourth-quarter play. Grass said Chapman has battled a nagging knee injury and took a hit on it Saturday.

JSU already lost starting tight end Trae Barry to a season-ending knee injury, suffered at Austin Peay on Sept. 28.

Killer drops

It seems unfathomable, considering the quality pass catchers JSU puts on the field, but drops have been a story in more than one JSU loss this season.

All-American Josh Pearson and Daniel Byrd both had big drops in Saturday’s game. Tight end Landon Rice, wide open, dropped a pass on fourth-and-four in the red zone in the third quarter.

“We had several drops today,” JSU coach John Grass said. “We turned it over once today, but we had four or five drops that really hurt us. It would’ve kept drives going. Dropped balls really affected us offensively.

“We’d probably had another 75, hundred yards on there if we catch those balls.”

JSU not getting its kicks

JSU, missing a kicker that gives Grass confidence from medium range, has had to go for it several times in fourth down in field-goal range this season. The Gamecocks had success early, but percentages and defense have caught up to it.

Bryant Wallace hit a 37-yard field goal Saturday but missed a 21-yarder. JSU went scoreless on two trips inside UTM’s red zone, one resulting in a missed field goal and turning the ball over on downs the other time.

Six points, or two field goals, would’ve won the game.

“This game, for sure, you miss a chip shot, and we was in a couple of other situations where we probably could’ve kicked field goals,” Grass said. “You’ve just got to get the ball in the end zone when you get down there and not get in those situations.

“You’ve got to get points when you get down there, for sure.”

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.