Big plays helped save Jacksonville State from falling into a first-half deficit on Saturday against visiting Southeastern Louisiana. In the second half, those big plays stopped, and so did the Gamecock offense.
The Gamecocks managed just 90 yards and no points after halftime during Southeastern Louisiana's 31-14 non-conference victory at Snow-Burgess Field at JSU Stadium.
"It was a disappointing whole game," said Jacksonville State head coach Rich Rodriguez on his postgame radio appearance. "First half, we had some opportunities. Second half, we were just kind of lifeless a little bit. We did a poor job coaching, we've got to be prepared better. When we have some lulls like this, teams take advantage of it, and that's what they did."
In the first half, Jacksonville State (6-2 overall) had 200 yards in offense. The bulk of those – 153 yards, to be exact – came on three plays. Anwar Lewis had runs of 36 and 53 yards and Ahmad Edwards had a 64-yard catch from Zion Webb. Two of those plays – Lewis' 53-yard run and Edwards' catch – resulted in touchdowns, which helped Jacksonville State carry a 14-13 lead into halftime.
But it didn't take a long look at the halftime box score to find concern. The Lions doubled the Gamecocks on total plays – 50 to 25 – and held the ball for the bulk of the half.
"We were playing hard. There were a couple of opportunities we missed," Rodriguez said. "I felt we needed to execute better. It was just a poor thing all around."
Rodriguez said the second-half doldrums had nothing to do with Southeastern Louisiana adjustments.
"They did exactly what they were doing in the first half," Rodriguez said. "We knew exactly what they were doing. We didn't handle them in the second half up front. They kind of controlled the clock, it seemed like. I got to get my coaches and myself. We got to get these guys ready."
The Gamecocks had five second-half possessions, four ended in a Jack Dawson punt, and the final one finished on an interception thrown by Webb.
Defensively, the Gamecocks wore down. By the end of the game, Southeastern Louisiana had 29 more plays (85-56) than Jacksonville State, and the Lions had 41:18 in possession time.
The Lions took a 21-14 lead on the opening play of the fourth quarter with a 5-yard pass from former South Alabama quarterback Cephus Johnson III to Ivan Drobocky and a two-point conversion pass after an end-around from receiver Gage Larvadain to Johnson. Southeastern added 10 more points, including a 2-yard touchdown run by Carlos Washington Jr.
Southeastern Louisiana (4-3) had 459 yards in offense, with 259 of that coming on the ground. The Lions were just 5 of 18 on third down but converted all five of their fourth down attempts. Jacksonville State had 290 yards in offense, with 164 coming on the ground.
Lewis had a big game, carrying the ball 15 times for 125 yards, but only 17 of those yards came in the second half. Webb was 10 of 22 for 126 yards. Safety Fred Perry had 13 tackles, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry, while fellow safety Jeremiah Harris had 10 tackles. Perry has 33 tackles in the past three games.
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