Jacksonville Sports Day

FSU: Jacksonville State Gives ’Noles Early Scare in 2020 Debut

TALLAHASSEE – Kicking off its season in October for the first time since 1926, Jacksonville State led Florida State for a majority of the afternoon Saturday before dropping a 41-24 decision at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The Gamecocks, playing the first of their abbreviated four-game fall schedule, led the Seminoles of the Atlantic Coast Conference by a touchdown at halftime before a socially-distant crowd of 13,589.

Jacksonville State raced to a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the third meeting between the schools, but Florida State (1-2) made a quarterback change that sparked its offense and gave head coach Mike Norvell his first FSU victory.

“There are no moral victories in this game,” said Jacksonville State head coach John Grass. “We had a chance to win this game and expected to win this game. But we just weren’t able to hang on.

“Being their third game and our first caught up with us. I’ve never in all my years of coaching faced that situation. We just could not get off the field in the second half, and their size and depth was too much for us. But I was proud of the effort.”

Scouts from the NFL, Reese’s Senior Bowl and CFL witnessed an impressive performance by Jacksonville State quarterback Zerrick Cooper.

The record-setting senior from Jonesboro, Ga., completed 22-of-30 passes for 232 yards and had a 2-yard touchdown run in moving past Montressa Kirby into second place on JSU’s career total offense list. Dave Russell III caught seven Cooper throws for 74 yards in his first career start.

Jacksonville State’s defense produced the first points when Florida State starting quarterback Tate Rodemaker threw a pick-six to safety Kolbi Fuqua, who rambled 13 yards to the end zone. Placekicker Alen Karajic’s extra point made it 7-0 with 10:54 left in the first quarter.

The lead became 14-0 when the Gamecocks drove 69 yards in six plays midway through the first. Josh Samuel, a transfer from Western Kentucky, scored on a 20-yard run and Karajic added his second PAT at the 5:08 mark.

Samuel’s run turned out to be the longest of the day for the Gamecocks. JSU was limited to 63 yards on 22 rushes.

Cooper directed another six-play touchdown drive as Jacksonville State went ahead 21-7 midway through the second quarter. He kept the drive alive with a brilliant 41-yard completion to Logan McVay, who caught the pass while falling backward with two FSU defenders on him. Cooper’s 2-yard TD run and another
Karajic extra point gave the Gamecocks a 14-point lead with 4:30 remaining before halftime.
Karajic kicked a 21-yard field goal to put Jacksonville State in front 24-21 with 9:57 left in the third quarter.

Jordan Travis, who replaced Rodemaker in the first quarter, turned out to be the difference in leading the Seminoles back from two 14-point deficits. He passed for 210 yards and one touchdown while running 12 times for 39 yards, including a 1-yard TD run just before halftime.

Florida State outgained the Gamecocks 531-307. The Seminoles had 358 yards after halftime. Former Alabama Mr. Football La’Damian Webb from Beauregard scored twice and had 55 yards on 10 carries for Florida State.

Nicario Harper and Darius Joiner led Jacksonville State defensively with eight tackles each.

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