JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Jacksonville State (2-2, 1-1) scored the last 14 points of the game to come away with a 31-16 win over Southeast Missouri (2-3, 1-1) Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 16,842 at Burgess-Snow Field.
JSU outscored Southeast, 17-6, in the second half and scored 14 fourth-quarter points to secure its first Ohio Valley Conference victory of the season.
The Redhawk defense stood firm toward the end, making three-consecutive stops inside its own five.
Shortly after Tim Hamm-Bey and Daniel Siehndel dropped Coty Blanchard for a loss of two yards, Griffin Thomas kicked a 20-yard field goal to give JSU a 17-10 lead with 6:28 left in the third quarter.
Southeast manufactured a 14-play, 70-yard drive and converted on third down four times to key a possession which resulted in a 13-yard touchdown run by Renard Celestin with 14:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Drew Geldbach, however, missed the kick on the point-after attempt, keeping the game at 17-16 in favor of the Gamecocks.
Alan Bonner then hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Marques Ivory and sprinted down the near sideline to the end zone, giving JSU a 24-16 lead with just under 11 minutes (10:57) left. There was initially a penalty on the play, but the flag was picked up allowing the touchdown to stand.
DaMarcus James' 8-yard run completed the 31-16 win with 2:05 remaining.
"It was one of those games where I felt we could take over at any time and I'm sure they felt the same way," said Southeast head coach Tony Samuel. "It was two ground-and-pound style offenses going at it."
The Gamecocks and Redhawks each had a 100-yard rusher and neither team turned the ball over.
Southeast forced JSU to punt on the opening drive of the game before stringing together an impressive march to get the early lead.
The Redhawks, who started their first possession at their own 1-yardline, marched 99 yards in 13 plays over a period of 6:04. The drive marked Southeast's longest this season.
Scott Lathrop broke free for a 15-yard run and 15 more yards were tacked on to the play due to a face mask penalty, as Southeast picked up a first down at the JSU-47.
Levi Terrell carried the ball five times for 32 yards after that, helping get the Redhawks inside the Gamecocks 10-yardline. Brandon Beck punched in his first career touchdown on 5-yard run up the middle with 5:30 left to play in the first quarter.
JSU answered when Ivory's 14-yard touchdown pass to Kevyn Cooper capped a 9-play, 84-yard scoring drive.
The Gamecocks used a 23-yard rush by James and a 25-yard pass from Ivory to Bonner to get to the Redhawks 32-yardline. Six plays later, Cooper's TD reception tied the game at 7-7 with 1:12 remaining.
Southeast took over on downs at its own 1-yardline for the second time in the game following a JSU punt.
Terrell took the handoff and bolted 37 yards on the second play. The Redhawks later faced a 3rd-and-4 at their 46-yardline when Celestin kept the drive alive with a 9-yard first down carry.
Southeast added a couple more big plays when Lathrop completed a 14-yard pass to D.J. Foster and Terrell picked up another first down, this time on a 13-yard run. Foster's made his catch after a JSU defender tipped the ball.
The Redhawks would settle for a field goal as Geldbach's kick sailed through the uprights from 42 yards out to regain a 10-7 edge for Southeast at the 6:21 mark of the second quarter.
JSU came right back with another lengthy drive to grab a 14-10 lead at halftime.
Ivory's 9-yard pass to Bonner on a 3rd-and-6 gave the Gamecocks a first down at the Southeast-18. On the next play, Blanchard sprung for an 11-yard run to set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by James.
Southeast punted the first time it had the ball in the second half.
JSU countered by moving the ball all the way to the Southeast 4-yardline before kicking a field goal.
Terrell ran for 146 yards on 26 carries to lead Southeast. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry en route to finishing with over 100 yards in a game for the third time this season and fifth in his career.
"Levi ran well and you have to give him a lot of credit," said Samuel. "He pushed through a lot."
Celestin chipped in 29 yards and scored his team-high second rushing touchdown.
Meanwhile, Lathrop completed 7-of-11 passes and went interception free for the fourth time this year. He ran for 54 yards on 17 carries, as well.
Defensively, Ben Kargbo paved the way with a career-high 11 tackles, while Tylor Brock followed close behind with 10.
Today marked the first time Southeast was involved in a game where neither team turned the ball over since Sept. 3, 2011 (vs. Southern Illinois).
James ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns, and Ivory threw for 161 yards and two TDs to lead JSU. Bonner also made seven receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown.
The Gamecocks outgained the Redhawks, 268-247, on the ground and averaged over six yards per play in their gritty win.
Southeast will be idle next week before hosting Tennessee State on Oct. 13.