Jacksonville State holds on against UWA

Published 9:09 am Monday, September 22, 2014

After building a comfortable lead through three quarters, Jacksonville State withstood a West Alabama comeback to post a 45-34 victory over the Tigers Saturday at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.

The win improves Jacksonville State to 2-1, while West Alabama dropped to 2-1. The Tigers are host to Concordia College Saturday at 6 p.m. JSU plays at Murray State.

The Gamecocks, members of the Football Championship Series, led Division II West Alabama 38-14 at the end of the third quarter, but the Tigers roared back to score the final 20 points of the game on the arm of senior quarterback Kyle Caldwell.

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“We had an awful third quarter, but we didn’t quit when hard times came,” Gilliland said. “We could have let it get ugly, but we didn’t. Make no mistake, Jacksonville State is a very good football team.”

Caldwell completed 22-of-33 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns to lead a 468-yard West Alabama offensive attack. He completed scoring passes to Chad Toocheck, Tyshaan Alston, Randy Satterfield and Markeyus Johnson along the way.

In the process, Caldwell moved past his head coach Brett Gilliland into second place on the Tiger career total offense list with 6,946 yards. Caldwell now has 56 career TD passes, needing just five to move past UWA tight ends coach Deon Williams, who had 60 from 2008-10.

“We had too many three and outs, but in the second half we got adjusted some and started to throw it more,” Caldwell said. “We had to throw it some to stay in it, and late in the second half we got some good mojo going with some good play calling and receivers fighting for the football.”

Three different Jacksonville State quarterbacks threw a touchdown passes and the Gamecocks rang up 630 total yards in the win. Troymaine Pope rushed for 121 yards and Miles Jones 108 for JSU, who finished with 336 yards on the ground.

West Alabama jumped out to a 7-0 lead just over a minute into the game when Caldwell hit Alston on a 5-yard scoring pass to cap a three-play, 67-yard drive. The score was set up by a 64-yard run by Jabari Baker on the first play of the game.

Jacksonville State threatened on it first drive before DeMarcus James fumbled into the endzone and Duke Leland recovered for UWA in the endzone.

The Gamecocks tied the game at 7-7 on an 88-yard scoring pass from Eli Jenkins to Markis Merrill with 8:43 left in the first period.

JSU went ahead for the first time on another scoring pass, this one a 32-yarder from Max Shortell to Josh Barge with 11:51 left in the first half to put the Gamecocks up 14-7. A 38-yard field goal by Connor Rouleau stretched the JSU lead to 17-7 with 7:17 left in the first half.

James scored from 3-yards out to give Jacksonville State a 24-7 lead with 2:25 left in the second quarter.

“They were big and strong, but we shot ourselves in the foot by being undisciplined,” UWA strong safety Fred Barnes said. “It’s hard to win with all those penalties, but we will go back to work tomorrow and learn from it.”

West Alabama was penalized 14 times for 137 yards in the game. JSU nine times for 92 yards.

Caldwell found Toocheck from seven yards out to cap a nine-play, 72-yard drive with 33 seconds left in the first half to cut the JSU lead to 24-14.

Rashad Greene intercepted Jenkins on the ensuing drive and returned it 30 yards to the Gamecock 32 yard line, setting up a 47-yard field goal attempt by Mark Grant that was blocked on the final play of the half.

The Gamecocks could have put the game away by driving 99 yards on 10 plays for a late third quarter touchdown, capped by a 13-yard Shortell pass to Barge pass with 2:10 left in the third period. UWA was penalized 42 yards on the drive.

After forcing a Tiger three and out, it took Jacksonville State two plays and 21 seconds to cover 58 yards and stretch the lead to 38-14. Barge caught his third touchdown pass of the game, this one from 14 yards from Christian LeMay. Barge had six receptions for 100 yards.

Jacksonville State added a defensive score with 10:27 to play when Jermaine Hough intercepted Caldwell and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to make it 45-14.

Then West Alabama came flying back. Caldwell passed for two scores and freshman walk-on Tyler Rogers scored on a 1-yard run in the final period to account for the final margin.

Caldwell completed his third touchdown pass of the game by hooking up with Johnson on a 75-yard catch and run to cut the lead to 45-21 with 10:07 left to play and then dropped one in to Satterfield for a 68-yarder just over three minutes later.

“When Kyle threw it my heart was racing and when I scored I wanted to jump out of my skin,” Satterfield said. “I just kept hearing voices in my head telling me to act like you’ve been there before.”

Brandon Lilly had eight tackles to lead the UWA defense, followed by Fred Barnes and DeQuante Shockley with seven each. UWA forced three Gamecock turnovers.