Another uniform variation, another Jacksonville State victory.
A week after donning black jerseys in a home win over Eastern Illinois, the Gamecocks broke out red pants with their road white jerseys for the first time in two years Saturday night against Murray State.
JSU spotted the Racers an early 10-point lead before rallying to claim a heart-pounding 38-30 Ohio Valley Conference victory before crowd of 3,838 at Roy Stewart Stadium, extending the Gamecocks' win streak over Murray State to eight.
Jacksonville State improved 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the OVC.
Murray State, which was picked second behind JSU in the OVC preseason poll, fell to 2-3 and 1-2.
The Gamecocks appeared to have the game under control when junior James Esco kicked a 28-yard field goal with 5:15 to go in the fourth quarter to make it 38-24. The outcome seemed even more secure when Robert Gray intercepted a Murray State pass with only 3:39 left.
But three running plays failed to net a first down and Coty Blanchard was forced to punt from deep in his own territory.
His kick was fielded at the Racers' 45 by Dontre Johnson, who returned it 54 yards to the JSU 1. Murray quarterback Casey Brockman then ran in from the 2 with 53 seconds remaining, but the Gamecocks' Rodney Garrott broke through to block the extra point try – Jax State's second blocked kick of the game.
Murray State recovered the ensuing onside kick and drove to the JSU 45 in the waning seconds. But the Racers were penalized for a false start on fourth down, which by NCAA rule ended the game.
The Gamecocks rolled up a season-high 486 yards, including 329 on the ground. It was the third straight game – all victories –the Jacksonville State offense had eclipsed the 400-yard mark.
Junior Washaun Ealey ran 28 times, his most this season, for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Blanchard added 79 yards and Calvin Middleton had 66.
Murray State was limited to 11 yards on 26 running plays, but finished with 421 yards through the air. It was the fewest rushing yards Jax State has allowed an OVC opponent since joining the league in 2003.
Madison, Ala., native Arthur Brackett, a sophomore receiver, caught eight passes for a career-high 181 yards for the Racers.
Ealey's 13-yard run late in the first quarter trimmed Murray's lead to 10-7.
Blanchard then hooked up with Justin Howard for a 5-yard touchdown pass on JSU's next drive and Esco added the PAT to make it 14-10 with 13:58 in the second quarter, a lead the Gamecocks never relinquished.
Ealey's second rushing TD, a 12-yarder with 13:08 to go in the third quarter, put JSU in front 21-10.
The teams then swapped touchdowns over the next 16 ½ minutes, with Jerry Slota scoring on a 1-yard run from the Wildcat formation and Blanchard tossing a 40-yard scoring pass to Trey Smith.
Blanchard's second TD pass of the game extended Jax State's lead to 35-24 with 11:38 remaining.
The Gamecocks have an open date next Saturday. They return to action on Oct. 15 at Austin Peay, the second of three straight road games.
Jacksonville State returns to Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium on Oct. 29 against Tennessee Tech. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.