The Racers’ consensus preseason All-American and Walter Payton Award candidate had only 82 all-purpose yards in the game. He caught five passes for 51 yards and had 31 yards in returns.
He did have a touchdown on a 29-yard route over the middle in the first quarter, but for the most part JSU cornerback Junior Hough was all over him.
“He’s a great wide receiver, but we just wanted to contain him,” Hough said. “That’s what we tried to do, and we did a pretty good job … not giving him what he wanted to do throughout the game.
“That was the game plan, me following him wherever he went. I felt good guarding him, felt good going into the game confidence up. We did pretty good.”
The Racers put Powell in play on a quick post on their first third-down play in overtime, but Hough and Rashod Byers bracketed him, and Byers nearly had an interception. Byers got hurt on the play, the Gamecocks failed to stop the fourth-down play, and Murray State eventually won it with a two-point conversion.
Getting his chance
With two backs in the stable the likes of DaMarcus James and Troymaine Pope, there doesn’t seem to be much room for anyone else. Miles Jones, however, has worked his way into the mix and flourished when he has gotten his chance.
The sophomore “opened some eyes and put my name out there a little bit” with his 138-yard second half against Jacksonville University three weeks ago. Saturday, he had 88 yards on 16 carries and a second-quarter touchdown — the first of his career.
“When my opportunity comes, I just try to make the best of it and help the team as much as I can,” he said. “Every day at practice, I just look at it as if I’m the starter. I do my role so when my time comes, I’m ready.”
Jones got a lot of chances Saturday because Pope was limited with an apparent shoulder injury. But Jones has been earning his keep. He now has 326 yards rushing for the season.
“He got all the same reps in the spring, and summer everybody else did, but we challenged him going into the summer,” Clark said. “We weren’t seeing the guy (they expected), something was going to have to change to get us a third back. Somewhere in there I think he realized it, and then he got a chance to go into the game.
“With those two (James and Pope), you might not ever get the chance; you’re not going to put a third guy in probably. We saw him get better at practice, and a guy gets hurt, and he gets his chances. Wow, he ran the ball well tonight.”
Redshirt freshman Dalton Screws made his first career start Saturday. The Wellborn product caught five passes for 58 yards. He had two catches for 42 yards in his previous three games.
The Gamecocks became only the second team in Division I football history to play three straight overtime games.
Penn is the only other school to do it. The Quakers played overtime three weeks in a row in 2006, losing all three (Yale 17-14, Brown 30-27 and Princeton 31-30 in double overtime). No FBS team has played three straight overtime games.
The Gamecocks won two of their three overtime games, beating Division II North Alabama and FBS Georgia State before falling to Murray State on Saturday.
The loss to Murray snapped JSU’s nine-game winning streak over the Racers. The Gamecocks’ currently longest active winning streak over one team is eight games, over Samford, although that series ended after the 2007 season.
The Gamecocks’ current longest winning streak over teams they still play is six, over Austin Peay.
The loss also prevented the Gamecocks from posting their 250th win at home since JSU Stadium opened in 1946.
They had a seven-game home winning streak, which was tied for the fifth longest active streak in the country.
The Gamecocks play their first Ohio Valley Conference road game of the season, traveling to UT Martin next week. They lost at Martin last year 49-47.
Skyhawks quarterback Derek Carr, no longer in the program, threw four touchdown passes in the first quarter in staking his team to a 28-7 lead. Carr had seven touchdown passes.
The Gamecocks rallied and scored with 41 seconds left in regulation, but failed to convert the potential game-tying two-point conversion.