It was the home opener for the Jacksonville State and the first home game for new head coach Rich Rodriguez. They went up against Davidson out of the Pioneer Football Conference. In what was the second all time meeting between the two schools. They last faced off in the 2021 FCS playoffs.
When JSU took care of business in what was a playoff victory. It was a little bit of the same here tonight.
Davidson got into trouble early when they lost possession of the ball on their first two drives of the game via fumble and turnover on downs. Jacksonville state would capitalize on the latter, scoring their first touchdown on just two plays. Sterling Galban made the catch across the middle and darts to the left sideline and gets to the end zone for a 31-yard score.
Moving quickly was a theme of the first half, as JSU had a time of possession of only six minutes and 44 seconds - nearly a quarter of Davidson's time with the ball in their hands.
But the Wildcats would put it together a little bit on their third drive of the game, stringing together 13 running plays before quarterback Jayden Waddell connected with Mark McCurdy in the corner for a 25-yard touchdown. It was the sole pass of the drive and the team's lone touchdown of the half.
JSU would take control of the game, creating scores on four consecutive drives. All four of those drives needed 10 plays or less. Gamecock quarterback Zion Webb worked the short game in the air when he needed to, going 7/11 (64%) in the opening stanza, but it was his legs that did the most damage. Of his 5 rushes, two were for scores, his burst up the middle in the red zone took the 'Cocks into the half with a convincing 28-10 lead.
Davidson would turn an interception into a touchdown on their first drive of the second half to make it 28-10.
Rich Rod got to drain the clock through the second half thanks in part to good field positioning, best exemplified by Michael Pettway's 72-yard return. That play brought the Red & Black into Davidson territory.
Needing little room to work, the Gamecocks went to the ground game often. Webb would score his third rushing touchdown of the game on a 25-yard play action route which put the game on ice at 35-17.
With the win, the Gamecocks move to 2-0 while Davidson dropped to 0-1. JSU is back in action next week at Murray State. Kickoff is set for 6 pm Central and can be seen on ESPN+. The game in up in Kentucky is the first of three consecutive road games for JSU before they open up ASUN play October 1 against Kennesaw State.