The third-ranked Jacksonville State football team dominated in all phases on Saturday afternoon, when the Gamecocks won their 11th-straight game with a 24-0 shutout of Tennessee State at Burgess-Snow Field.
The Gamecocks (7-0, 4-0 Ohio Valley Conference) improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1991 and extended the OVC's longest winning streak since 1999 in convincing fashion. The shutout was the first by a JSU defense since 2006 and snapped a streak of 51-straight games in which the Tigers (3-4, 0-3 OVC) had scored.
The JSU offense was as effective as it needed to be, picking up 174 yards on the ground and 99 more through the air. Junior Calvin Middleton's 86 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries led the Jax State ground game, a key on a day that saw the Gamecocks outgain an OVC foe for the first time this season.
The Tigers managed just 65 passing yards after completing only seven of their 17 pass attempts. The Gamecocks intercepted a pair of quarterback Jeremy Perry's passes and recovered one of TSU's two fumbles.
Junior Marques Ivory was 7-for-17 through the air for 67 yards. The native of Warner Robins, Ga., threw two interceptions and one touchdown, while freshman Coty Blanchard was 4-for-4 for 32 yards and a touchdown. Blanchard, of Leesburg, Ala., also ran for 28 yards on three carries, 24 of which came on a fake punt in the first quarter.
Blanchard's punt team was also a catalyst for the Gamecocks on Saturday. His fake set up JSU's first score of the day, while a TSU fumble on his next punt was recovered inside the 20 and set up Blanchard's scoring pass.
Junior James Shaw led the JSU receiving corps with three catches for 40 yards and his touchdown, an 18-yard haul from Blanchard. Senior John Houston Whiddon also had three catches for 23 yards, while Justin Howard and Jamal Young each had a pair of receptions.
The Tigers' Dante' Thomas ran for 94 yards on 18 carries, while Perry tossed for 65 yards and was sacked three times.
Junior Rodney Garrott had one of those sacks to pace his six-tackle afternoon. He was one off of the team lead of seven by senior Antonio Bonner. Sophomore Keginald Harris intercepted his fifth pass of the season, a category he led the OVC in entering Saturday. The Gamecocks made a total of seven stops behind the line of scrimmage, two of which were in the arms of Garrott.
The Gamecocks pulled a little trickery out of their bag on their first drive of the game. Facing a three-and-out, punter Coty Blanchard kept the ball and scampered 24 yards for a first down to the Tigers' 30-yard line. Two plays later, Middleton found a crease off left tackle and took it 32 yards to the endzone to give the Gamecocks a 7-0 lead with 9:29 remaining in the first quarter.
Late in the second quarter, special teams set up another score for the Gamecocks. Blanchard's 46-yard punt was knocked from Julian Mallory's hands by Jeffery Cameron and recovered by Kevyn Cooper to set the Gamecocks up at the Tigers' 18 yard line. On the first play of the extended drive, Blanchard found James Shaw in the end zone to put JSU up 14-0 with 2:03 remaining in the half.
A 25-yard Shaw return of a Tiger punt on the next drive set up the Gamecocks' final score of the half, a 27-yard field goal by James Esco. His first successful kick of the day gave Jax State a 17-0 advantage at the half.
The Gamecocks pushed the lead to 24-0 on their first possession of the second half, thanks to a nine-yard scoring pass from Ivory to Cameron that capped a six-play, 64-yard drive that took less than three minutes to complete.
The Gamecocks will be at home again on Saturday for a Homecoming matchup with Austin Peay. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 3 p.m., with festivites planned on campus throughout t- Captains for the Gamecocks: senior OL Curt Porter, senior RB Alphonso Freeney, senior LB Morrell Jones and junior DT Jamison Wadley.