Sophomore DaMarcus James ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns and senior quarterback Marques Ivory passed for 161 yards and two TDs as Jacksonville State defeated Southeast Missouri State 31-16 before a crowd of 16,842 at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.
The Gamecocks improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Jacksonville State won with an effective, ball-control offensive game plan. All five of JSU's scoring drives took at least nine plays and all of them covered at least 60 yards.
“I felt like we had a pretty good tempo throughout the whole game,” Ivory said, “and it was actually better than how we practiced. Everybody got up to the line and we got to see what they were doing.
“We called the correct plays and the offensive line did a great job. We had been telling them all week that they controlled everything that we're going to do, and when they play great, we'll play great.”
“We preached all week that we're going to dominate up front,” said sophomore center Max Holcombe. “The better the offensive line plays, the better the whole offense runs. And when we're able to run the ball it makes it easier on Marques throwing the ball.”
Southeast Missouri State dropped to 2-3 and 1-1 with its fifth straight loss to the Gamecocks.
Jacksonville State averaged 5.5 yards per rushing attempt, finishing with 268 yards on the ground and 429 overall. SEMO, which went 99 yards for a touchdown on its first possession, had 303.
Jacksonville State's touchdown drives covered 84, 72, 73 and 61 yards. The Gamecocks also were an exceptional 10-of-13 on third-down conversions.
James sealed the victory with a slashing 8-yard run up the middle with just over two minutes remaining to give the Gamecocks a 31-16 lead. His 149-yard rushing effort marked a career high, topping his 120-yard output earlier this season against Chattanooga.
“Just because DaMarcus is listed as a 'B' back on the depth chart doesn't mean he's a 'B' player,” said Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe.
Ivory's second touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 20-yarder to Alan Bonner, gave JSU an eight-point cushion (24-16) with 10:57 to play. Southeast Missouri State had closed to within one on the previous drive when Renard Celestin scored on a 13-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Gamecocks did not commit a turnover, the first time that's happened since the 2010 regular-season finale at Tennessee Tech.
Jacksonville State received the opening kickoff and worked its way into SEMO territory, but the drive stalled and the Gamecocks were forced to punt.
Coty Blanchard's perfect kick nestled on the 1, putting the Redhawks offense in an early predicament – which they promptly worked out of by driving 99 yards for the game's first score.
Southeast Missouri State covered the distance in 13 plays, with Levi Terrell picking up 43 yards on seven carries.
Brandon Beck completed the length-of-the-field march by running in from the 5 with 5:30 left in the first quarter. Drew Gelbach's extra point made it 7-0 SEMO.
The Gamecocks answered with a long drive of their own to pull even at 7-7.
James ran 23 yards on the drive's second play and then Marques Ivory connected with Bonner for a 25-yard gain into Redhawks territory. Runs by Washaun Ealey, James and Blanchard moved JSU deep into Southeast Missouri State territory.
Facing third-and-4 late in the first quarter, Ivory hooked up with Kevyn Cooper for a 14-yard touchdown. Griffin Thomas' PAT tied it at 7 with 1:12 left.
Southeast Missouri State regained the lead with another time-consuming drive after again being pinned at the 1, this time on a 55-yard punt by JSU's Hamish MacInnes.
Terrell's 37-yard run on second down quickly got the Redhawks out of the hole. SEMO moved to the Gamecocks 12, but an 11-yard quarterback sack by JSU's Caleb Lawrence and DiMetrio Tyson halted the momentum and Drew Geldbach came in to kick a 42-yard field goal with 6:21 left in first half.
Jacksonville State gained its first lead with a 72-yard, 12-play drive on the ensuing possession.
The Ivory-to-Bonner combo clicked on a pair of short completions and James finished off the scoring drive with a 1-yard run with 1:24 left. Thomas' PAT gave Jacksonville State the 14-10 lead it took to the locker room at halftime.
Jacksonville State begins a two-game road trip next Saturday at Tennessee Tech. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The Gamecocks' next home game is Oct. 20 against Tennessee State at 11 a.m. in a game nationally televised on Fox College Sports.