Head coach Bill Clark would like to think the Gamecocks have found their identity here in grand scheme of things.
They had trouble punching it in when they got deep into Georgia State territory early, but when they had to get in the end zone from in close, they went to the direct snap with their most punishing runner, DaMarcus James, and made it happen.
Quarterback Max Shortell came in after Eli Jenkins hurt his hand and passed for 235 yards. Jenkins wasn’t bad throwing the ball, either, completing all five of his passes for 76 yards.
The group got burned on the opening play of the game and gave up some long third-down conversions, but they forced Georgia State quarterback Ronnie Bell into several bad throws late in the game and made the stand in overtime.
The Gamecocks’ defense had two takeaways, one of which almost scored, six quarterback hurries and three sacks.
As good as the Gamecocks were here a week ago, they weren’t as solid in Atlanta.
They gave up some big returns to Albert Wilson, missed a short field goal, had a punt blocked that was recovered for a touchdown, and fumbled a kickoff return that led to another score.
Beyond the miss, Griffin Thomas hit two other field goals, including a go-ahead 34-yarder with 2:58 left in regulation.
One of the more interesting calls of the night came when the Gamecocks tried to go for two after James’ second-quarter touchdown.
The try failed and left JSU with just an early four-point lead. Some also might question the third-down outside run by Miles Jones inside the 10 in the first quarter that lost 2 yards.
The calls on the direct snaps were money, as James scored three times.
The Gamecocks found another way to win, but they all recognize they still can play a lot better.
They are now 4-0 heading into the Ohio Valley Conference schedule and you can’t be any better.
Like in golf, they don’t ask you how, they just ask how many. It’s the best start by any JSU head coach in his first season since Jim Fuller started 5-0.
Jacksonville State opened the season 4-0 only twice in the previous 11 seasons.
Jacksonville State 7 13 3 3 6 —32
Georgia State 9 0 0 17 0 —26
GS—Wilson 75 pass from Bell (kick failed), 14:47.
JvSt—D.James 1 run (Thomas kick), 9:35.
GS—FG Lutz 39, 6:43.
JvSt—D.James 1 run (pass failed), 9:22.
JvSt—Jenkins 5 run (Thomas kick), :10.
JvSt—FG Thomas 29, 4:38.
GS—Scott 3 blocked punt return (Lutz kick), 13:11.
GS—Ro.Davis 10 pass from Bell (Lutz kick), 12:09.
JvSt—FG Thomas 34, 2:58.
GS—FG Lutz 26, :00.
JvSt—D.James 2 run.
First downs 22 22
Rushes-yards 44-122 42-150
Passing 311 250
Comp-Att-Int 17-32-0 16-42-1
Return Yards 28 27
Punts-Avg. 5-32.6 4-45.8
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-55 9-62
Time of Possession 26:05 33:55
RUSHING—Jacksonville State, M.Jones 21-76, D.James 16-41, Jenkins 5-13, Shortell 2-(minus 8). Georgia State, Bell 11-57, Evans 20-45, Jean-Bart 5-24, Wilson 4-15, K.Hill 1-11, Team 1-(minus 2).
PASSING—Jacksonville State, Shortell 12-27-0-235, Jenkins 5-5-0-76. Georgia State, Bell 16-41-1-250, McLane 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Jacksonville State, Barge 7-96, Merrill 3-62, A.Johnson 2-59, Screws 1-39, T.Brown 1-33, Ellis 1-17, L.Smith 1-7, Calloway 1-(minus 2). Georgia State, Wilson 7-158, Ro.Davis 3-36, Evans 3-19, D.Williams 1-15, K.Hill 1-11, Jeppesen 1-11.