JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State scored a road victory over Eastern Illinois on Saturday, 44-23:
It’s hard to fault a team that rushed for 282 yards and passed for 258, and with one turnover. The Gamecocks gained 540 total yards on 72 plays, and average of 7.5 yards a play.
This was not the hard-to-score-on defense JSU has shown all season. The Gamecocks gave up big plays that set up three EIU scores. Still, JSU came up with a stop on fourth and goal from the 9-yard line in the fourth quarter, and Hudson Petty returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown.
Special teams: B+
Alen Karajic made a 46-yard field goal but missed an extra point, the one blemish on the day. He managed five touchbacks on eight kickoffs, including every kickoff he had with a steady, 20-mph wind at his back. Wind affected Joshua Dawson’s 29-yard punt on his lone attempt.
JSU’s staff had to pick Zion Webb back up after he had five of the Gamecocks’ six turnovers against Austin Peay on March 28, and Webb delivered arguably his best game as a Gamecock. He left the stadium with a 181.3 quarterback rating. His hookups with Ahmad Edwards were the product of film study.
JSU’s offense played its best game, and the defense played well enough. The 12th-ranked Gamecocks held serve for next week’s showdown for the Ohio Valley Conference title at Murray State and helped their cause for a playoff berth in a reduced, 16-team field.