Coming into the contest, JSU hadn't lost a home game this season at Burgess-Snow Field, and while it took a rally from an early two-touchdown deficit, the Gamecocks finished 5-0 at home with a 38-23 victory.
Jacksonville State (6-4, 5-3) has been perfect at home for the third time in head coach Jack Crowe's career. It's the first time the Gamecocks have been undefeated at home since 2008. The win also secured the Gamecocks' 10th consecutive winning season.
"We were able to close out the home season with a win for our (13) seniors, and I think it's a homestand we're proud of," Crowe said. "I think winning at home is really important. I don't care if it's by one or whatever the margin was here. I think you want your fans to believe you're going to win every time you play in front of them."
A big part of JSU's win over the Governors (1-9, 0-7) came from the running tandem of sophomore DaMarcus James and senior Washaun Ealey. James recovered from an early fumble to post 149 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. James had 142 yards in the second half.
Ealey rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 13 totes, but he also caught four passes for 38 yards and a pair of scores.
The Gamecock duo's outing spoiled a 375-yard, 3-touchdown passing performance by Austin Peay senior quarterback Jake Ryan. Ryan completed 40 of 61 pass attempts in the game.
It took Ryan a little while to get revved up. He tossed an interception to Gamecock junior linebacker Rashad Smith on the Governors' first offensive series of the game. However, the Gamecocks gave the ball back on a James fumble inside the Austin Peay 4-yard line.
"I thought about it at first, but then I was like 'That play's over. You've got to move on to the next one,'" James said. "They give you the ball, you've got to answer."
And answer he did in the second half, but the Governors turned the James fumble into a touchdown.
Ryan connected with freshman receiver Mikhail Creech on a 24-yard touchdown. Stephen Stansell's extra point capped the 11-play, 96-yard drive, putting Austin Peay in front 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Creech caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown in the game.
Austin Peay went up 14-0 on a diving catch by senior receiver Devin Stark just eight seconds into the second quarter before the Gamecocks finally got on the scoreboard.
Junior quarterback Coty Blanchard connected with senior receiver Alan Bonner on a 71-yard pass to give the Gamecocks a first-and-goal at the 7. James took it in from there, and Griffin Thomas's extra point cut the Governor lead to 14-7 with 13:06 left in the first half.
Blanchard completed 3 of 4 pass attempts for 115 yards and a score.
Following an Austin Peay punt, JSU tied the game at 14 on and Ealey 1-yard score, capping a 7-play, 69-yard drive.
The Governors drove the ball down to the JSU 13 on their next possession, but had to settle for a Stansell 30-yard field goal attempt. The attempt was no good, keeping the score tied at 14.
JSU was forced to punt on its next possession, but a high snap over punter Hamish MacInnes resulted in a safety, putting Peay in front 16-14.
The Governors looked to go up even more with six seconds left in the half, but Stansell's 31-yard field goal attempt was blocked by JSU 6-foot-7 defensive end Erick Butler.
"I feel like we came out kind of flat," Ealey said of the first half. "I feel like we came out in practice mode, but we really came together as a team (at halftime). That's what I like about this team, the senior leadership. We're very vocal. We'll call each other out, no matter who it is. They were up two points on us, and we know they're not two points better than us. We just went in there, talking to each other, made adjustments, motivated each other. I really feel like the guys stepped up to the challenge. The defense came out and got stops, and we went out there and put points on the board."
"We knew we should have been playing better than we were in the first half," said Gamecock senior quarterback Marques Ivory, who completed 10 of 14 pass attempts for 107 yards and a touchdown. "I think going into the second quarter, we had played only 18 plays (on offense). When we went out on the field, and we didn't stay out there long. It wasn't (the defense's) fault they stayed on the field for a long time, but we had to put some drives together later on. Them getting us the ball back helped a lot, so we had more opportunities."
Ivory took it upon his shoulders to account for the Gamecocks' first score coming out of the locker room. His 10-yard touchdown run capped a 5-play, 66-yard drive that put JSU out in front for the first time, 21-16.
Following another Austin Peay punt, Ivory connected with Ealey on a 10-yard touchdown toss, and with 6:54 remaining in the third, the Gamecocks began pulling away with a 28-16 lead.
Ealey caught his second touchdown pass from Blanchard - this one from 27 yards - that gave the Gamecocks a 35-16 advantage with 2:51 left in the third.
The Governors got back in the game with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter on Ryan's 9-yard touchdown toss to freshman running back Reco Williams. Stansell's extra point pulled Austin Peay within 12 points at 35-23.
Austin Peay looked as if it would creep even closer following a Gamecock punt. The Governors drove the ball down to the JSU 14, but on fourth-and-9 with 8:45 left in the game, a Ryan pass was broken up by JSU's Rashod Byers.
The Gamecock defense came up with another fourth-down stop with 4:42 remaining, and this time, JSU's offense cashed the turnover on downs into points. A 60-yard run by James gave the Gamecocks a first-and-goal at the Austin Peay 9.
JSU was forced to settle for a 43-yard field goal by Thomas, who connected on the kick with 44 seconds left for the final.
JSU concludes the 2012 season next Saturday with a trip to the Swamp to take on the Florida Gators.