JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State eased to yet another Ohio Valley Conference win Saturday at Burgess-Snow Field.

The Gamecocks defeated Eastern Illinois 49-22 to extend their conference winning streak to 36 games.

JSU started hot offensively with two touchdowns on its first two drives of the game. Quarterback Zerrick Cooper found tight end Trae Barry wide-open on the left sideline for a 44-yard touchdown. Jaelen Greene ran in an 11-yard score on JSU’s next drive to give the Gamecocks a 14-0 lead with 8:44 left in the first quarter.

The offense then ran into some trouble as both Cooper and Zion Webb threw one interception apiece. Eastern Illinois scored off each turnover, but the Jacksonville State defense was able to hold the Panthers to field goals.

JSU extended its lead to 21-6 with 6:56 left in the first half on a 4-yard run by Cooper, which was set up by a 36-yard pass from the quarterback to Landon Rice.

The Panthers drove the ball to the JSU 10 late in the second quarter, but a Joseph Roberts sack to keep EIU out of the end zone again. Nick Bruno made his third field goal of the day to make the halftime score 21-9.

Jacksonville State put the game to rest in the third quarter, mainly behind the deep ball to Josh Pearson.

The junior wide receiver hauled in two touchdowns within the first eight minutes of the third quarter. Both were from Cooper and were from 35 and 31 yards out to extend JSU’s lead to 35-9.

The Gamecocks were in firm control from there as JSU and EIU swapped touchdowns a couple of times in the final quarter. The focus was getting out of the game healthy as multiple Gamecocks went down with injuries late, including Cooper.

 

Injury Report

Cooper went down after getting hit while trying to get rid of the ball inside the 1-yard line. He was flagged for intentional grounding and got “whiplashed a little bit” according to JSU coach John Grass. “I think he’s fine,” Grass added.

Safety Traco Williams went down with an injury in the first half and didn’t return. Grass wasn’t sure what Williams’ injury was or the extent of it, but said it happened on a “crack block.”

Center Tyler Scozzaro came out for a couple of drives with an injury but ended up returning. Grass added that offensive lineman B.J. Autry played “banged up.”

 

Star of the Night

Pearson ended the night with three catches for a score. The junior wideout now has 11 touchdown receptions on the season to tie JSU’s single season scoring mark of 11 set by Josh Barge in 2015. Pearson ended the night with eight catches for 137 yards.

 

By the Numbers

1 — Cooper has thrown for at least one touchdown in all six games this season. … 29 — The Gamecocks had three scoring drives that took three minutes or less, pushing the season’s total to 29. … 3 — Pearson became the first Gamecock to have three touchdown receptions in a game since Barge did it Sept. 26, 2015. … 592 — Total yards by JSU (364 passing; 228 rushing). … 365 — Total yards by EIU (350 passing; 15 rushing). … 111 — Passing yards by EIU in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

 

They Said It

“First I want to thank God. Without him, none of this is possible. It’s truly a blessing. I’ve come a long way. It’s nice to tie it. Now I’m going to try to break it. I never thought I’d be at this point. I feel like I was going to have a good season, but 11 touchdowns by game seven? It’s a blessing. Shout out our O-line and quarterbacks.” — Pearson

“Coming into the game, we knew they were going to pass the ball mostly every play. Coach (Andrew) Warwick came up with a good scheme and we played a package we haven’t played all year. It was a different look and I don’t think they were expecting it.” — JSU safety Marlon Bridges

 

Coachspeak

“Holding them to three field goals (in the first half) was big. You knew they were going to move the ball with that type of an offense. They are going to get their yardage. What you want to do when they get in the red zone is hold them to field goals. We were able to do that. We would like to hold them outside of that field goal range, but they got it down there and made the field goals.” — Grass

 

JSU Stat Sheet

Cooper finished the game 13-of-21 passing for 240 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He also had a rushing score. Webb was 12-of-19 passing for 124 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Both of Webb’s touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. Michael Matthews led JSU in rushing with 78 yards on eight carries. Yul Gowdy totaled nine tackles.

 

EIU Stat Sheet

Johnathan Brantley was 28-of-39 passing for 243 yards with two touchdowns. Alexander Hollins had nine receptions for 81 yards. Aaron Gooch caught seven passes for 90 yards. Holins and Gooch each had a touchdown.

 

Up Next

JSU (5-1, 4-0 OVC) travels to Southeast Missouri for an OVC matchup at 1 p.m. Saturday. Eastern Illinois (1-6, 1-3) hosts UT Martin at 2 p.m. Saturday.