Late field goal sends Red to J-Day win

JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville State freshman Griffin Thomas kicked a 51-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in game to lift the Red team to a 24-21 comeback win over the White team in the annual J-Day game at Paul Snow Stadium on Saturday.

"I thought there were a lot of different plays made that were the type of plays that win games," said JSU Head Coach Jack Crowe. "We had a little bit of everything done right today. I think both quarterbacks made plays in critical situations and we had a dominate running day. I thought there were coverage guys that stopped the passing game."

The game winning drive used 15 plays and consumed 6:23 of the fourth quarter clock. Michael Whittier completed a pass to Calvin Middleton to get the Red down to the White 29 before a bad shotgun snap pushed the Red back to White 34 where the drive stalled three plays later to set the field goal.

Thomas, who only played one-year of high school football in Snellville, Ga., had misfired on a 47-yard field goal attempt in the first half but made the most of his second chance with distance to spare and break the 21-21 tie.

Big plays in the span of two minutes helped the White team take an early 14-0 lead. Marquis Ivory, who completed 12-of-20 passes for 231 yards, tossed a 59-yard touchdown strike to James Shaw with 6:31 left in the first quarter and then completed a 55-yard scoring strike to La'Ray Williams for a 14-0 lead with 4:09 left in the first quarter. Williams finished the day with six catches for 136 yards while Shaw had four catches for 91 yards to pace the White receivers.

Whittier, who rushed 11 times for 45 yards and three touchdowns and completed 14-of-24 passes for 203 yards, scored on a one-yard run with 11:52 to play in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 14-7 at halftime.

The Red squad used 13 plays to cover 91 yards and used 7:13 of the third quarter clock to push across the game-tying score. Whittier capped the drive with a three-yard run tie the game 14-14 with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter.

Jamal Young took an option pitch from Ivory and raced 21 yards to give the White a 21-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. Young finished the afternoon with 13 carries for 76 yards to lead the White rushing attack.

The lead was short lived as the Red drove 65 yards in eight plays to tie the game with just 3:32 gone off the fourth quarter clock. Whittier added this third rushing score of the afternoon from one-yard out to finish the drive.

Calvin Middleton rushed for a game-high 147 yards on 21 carries while Alan Bonner had seven catches for 118 yards for the Red.

Antonio Bonner and Matt Tompkins had 14 and 12 tackles and Kevin Dix and Benjamin Puckett recorded sacks for the White defense.

Eric Russell led the Red team with seven tackles, two for loss while Tigers Williams had five solo stops and a fumble return for 56 yards that set up the Red at the White three in the third quarter. Jawaan Booker led the Red secondary with two pass deflections.

Jacksonville State opens the 2010 season against Ole Miss on Sept. 4 in Oxford, Miss.