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EKU defeats Jacksonville State for first time since 2012

Posted at 9:25 PM, Nov 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-23 21:25:48-05

JACKSONVILLE, Al — Eastern Kentucky University’s football team beat Jacksonville State University, 29-23, on Saturday for the Colonels first win over the Gamecocks since 2012.

EKU kicker Samuel Hayworth broke the program record for kicking points in a game with 17, and tied the mark for field goals with five. After coming up one point short of tying the record earlier this season, Hayworth surpassed Jamie Lovett's program record of 16 kicking points in a game, set against Youngstown State in 1983.

It was Eastern’s first win over JSU since beating the Gamecocks, 51-21, in Richmond on Sept. 22, 2012. It was the first win by the Colonels in Jacksonville since Nov. 5, 2011.

Eastern Kentucky finishes the 2019 campaign with a 7-5 record and a 5-3 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Alonzo Booth broke a 16-16 tie with a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:47 left in the third quarter. The scoring drive came right after JSU had scored a touchdown to knot the game, and appeared as if it would stall when the Colonels faced a 3rd-and-5 at the JSU 45 yard line. However, Daryl McCleskey Jr. caught a short pass on the right sideline and turned it into a 27-yard gain to the 18 yard line. Conor Blount carried for 12 yards to the 10. Two penalties on Jacksonville State got Eastern to the two yard line. Two plays later, Booth jumped over the line to put the visitors in front.

A 50-yard field goal by Hayworth with 10:21 remaining in the game stretched the margin to 26-16. After the Gamecocks fumbled the ball away on their next possession, Eastern strung together a drive that covered just 32 yards, but took 6:41 off the clock. Hayworth’s fifth field goal of the game, this time from 28 yards, pushed the advantage to 13, 29-16.

Jacksonville State answered with a quick touchdown, moving 75 yards in 1:42. An 18-yard pass to KJ Stepherson from Zerrick Cooper, coupled with the extra-point, made it a 6-point game with 1:42 left. EKU had to punt the ball away with 27 seconds remaining, but the Gamecocks only had 18 seconds to work with when they took over at their own seven yard line. JSU did not pick up a first down and the game ended on Aaron Patrick’s second sack of the game.

The senior defensive end finished with two sacks in the game and 10 for the season. He moved into second place on EKU’s all-time sacks list with 27.5 for his career.

Eastern out-gained Jacksonville State (6-6, 3-5 OVC) 396-391. The Colonels held a 203 to 80 advantage on the ground and held the ball for 11:20 longer than the Gamecocks.

Blount finished 18-for-35 for 172 yards with one touchdown pass. McCleskey rushed for 110 yards on 24 carries. Booth had 54 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Corey Glass and Allante Leapheart had nine tackles each for the Colonels.

Cooper threw for 311 yards, finishing 21-for-35 with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He also led the team with 44 rushing yards.

The two teams battled to a halftime tie. After JSU took the opening possession and drove 79 yards in seven plays for a touchdown, the Colonels held the home team to a field goal the rest of the half. Jacksonville State’s point-after attempt failed due to a bad snap.

Hayworth tied the game on two second quarter field goals, one from 34 yards and one from 24. Bryant Wallace pushed JSU in front 9-6 when he made a 21-yard field goal with 5:07 left in the second quarter. Hayworth tied it when he put a 25-yarder through the uprights with 15 seconds left in the first half. After starting quarterback Blount had to leave the game on that drive when his helmet came off, Dakota Allen came in and connected on a big 3rd-and-6 pass for 21 yards to the JSU 24.

After the game-tying field goal, the ensuing kickoff was recovered by EKU’s Matthew Jackson at the Gamecock 37 yard line. Eastern picked up seven yards before attempting a 48-yard field goal that came up short as the second quarter clock expired.