CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – This time, unlike the season-opening victory over Tennessee-Martin, Jacksonville State dug itself too deep of a hole to climb out of.
The No. 10 Gamecocks (1-1) surrendered 508 yards of total offense and fell to No. 23 Chattanooga 38-17 before a crowd of 12,195 Saturday at Finley Stadium, snapping their four-game win streak in a series that dates back to 1904.
It was a night of unwanted milestones for Jacksonville State.
The Gamecocks finished with only 224 yards of total offense, their fewest since a 2006 loss at Mississippi State. They managed only 17 yards and one first down after halftime.
The 508 yards gained by Chattanooga (296 passing, 212 rushing) was the most a Jacksonville State defense has allowed since a 2004 loss to Furman in the first round of the Division I-AA playoffs.
The first regular-season meeting at Finley Stadium between two ranked opponents was a back-and-forth affair through the first 30 minutes. Chattanooga led 23-17 at intermission as the teams combined to roll up 536 total yards.
The Mocs (1-1) struck first, traveling 43 yards in four plays on their second possession. Chris Awuah ran 15 yards for a touchdown and Nick Pollard added the extra point to give Chattanooga a 7-0 lead with 7:25 left in the first quarter.
But Jacksonville State wasted little time in responding.
Sophomore Coty Blanchard, making his first career start at quarterback, moved JSU 70 yards in eight plays, completing 3-of-3 passes for 59 yards.
Washaun Ealey capped the drive with a 4-yard run – his first rushing touchdown in a Gamecock uniform – and James Esco's extra point made it 7-7 at the 4:28 mark.
After a short Mocs punt, JSU took its only lead of the game when Calvin Middleton ran eight yards for a touchdown to finish off a 58-yard drive. Esco's kick put the Gamecocks ahead 14-7 with 52 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Middleton's TD was his eighth in his last eight games.
Chattanooga needed only seven plays to drive for the tying touchdown on the ensuing possession. Quarterback B.J. Coleman connected with Marion Anthony for a 24-yard touchdown and the extra point made it 14-14 with 13:09 left.
A time-consuming 11-play drive, finished off by Pollard's 25-yard field goal, gave Chattanooga a 17-14 lead midway through the second quarter. But Jacksonville State again answered by quickly moving 49 yards, with Esco kicking a 28-yard field goal with 4:49 left in the half.
Chattanooga's Coleman hit Joel Bradford on a 47-yard touchdown pass moments later, giving the Mocs a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Jacksonville State's Monte Lewis blocked the extra point attempt, making it 23-17 Chattanooga with 3:01 left in the second quarter.
Awuah scored his second touchdown, a 1-yard run, with 2:48 to go in the third quarter extended the Mocs' lead. Coleman ran in the conversion to make it 31-17.
Wes Dothard's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown made it 38-17 and ended Jacksonville State's hopes of comeback.
Blanchard finished with a career-high 164 yards passing, completing 13-of-23 passes.
Jacksonville State was 1-of-13 in third-down efficiency.
The Gamecocks return to action next Saturday against Georgia State. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field in a game that will be televised regionally by CSS.
- Captains for the Gamecocks: senior RB Calvin Middleton, junior DB Brooks Robinson, senior DE Jamison Wadley.
- Jacksonville State won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.
- After six Gamecocks made their first career start a week ago vs. UT Martin, sophomore quarterback Coty Blanchard was the only JSU player to make his first career start vs. UTC.
- The Mocs snapped a four-game losing streak to JSU and now leads the all-time series 26-10. The Mocs are 19-7 against the Gamecocks in Chattanooga.
- With the loss, the Gamecocks fall to 40-63-2 vs. current members of the Southern Conference.
- With UTC's touchdown with 7:25 to play in the first quarter, the Gamecocks' opponents have scored first in JSU's last three games and in nine of the last 14 dating back to the start of 2010. JSU is now 10-4 in those 14 games.
- With his five-yard run with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter, junior Washaun Ealey recorded his first rushing score in a Gamecock uniform.
- After his eight-yard run with 52 seconds to play in the first quarter, junior senior Calvin Middleton has ran for at least one score in seven of his last eight games played. His lone scoreless game in that stretch was vs. Wofford in last year's playoffs.
- Senior Monte Lewis' blocked extra point late in the second quarter was the first blocked PAT by the Gamecocks since Brandt Thomas blocked one vs. Austin Peay on Nov. 1, 2008.
- UTC's 15-yard rushing score by Chris Awuah in the first quarter was the Mocs first rushing score vs. JSU since 2005, snapping a stretch of four-straight games without a running TD.
- UTC's 508 yards of total offense are the most in a game against the Gamecocks since Furman racked up 521 on Nov. 27, 2004. It marks the first time JSU has allowed 500 yards in a game since Furman had 502 on Sept. 1, 2005.
- JSU Sophomore James Powell left the game in the fourth quarter with an injured pectoral muscle and did not return.
BY THE NUMBERS
1 - Gamecock that made his first start on Saturday, sophomore QB Coty Blanchard.
4 - Consecutive wins in Jacksonville over UTC before tonight's loss.
8 - Rushing touchdowns by Calvin Middleton in his last eight games.
11 - Successful field goals by junior James Esco in his last nine games.
17 - Yards of total offense by the Gamecocks in the second half.
43 - Yards by tight end Justin Howard on a second-quarter catch from Blanchard, 17 yards longer than his previous career high set in 2009.
164 - Passing yards by QB Coty Blanchard, 31 more than his previous career high set last week vs. UT Martin.
224 - Total offense by JSU, the fewest yards by the Gamecocks since 10/14/06 at Mississippi State.
508 - Total offense by UTC, the first time JSU has allowed 500 in a game since 9/1/05.