JSU falls to Eastern Kentucky, 51-21

RICHMOND, Ky. – It was all Eastern Kentucky in the Jacksonville State football's team's Ohio Valley Conference opener on Saturday, when the Colonels erupted for a 51-21 win at Roy  Kidd Stadium.

Eastern Kentucky (3-1, 1-0 OVC) took control early, and the Gamecocks (1-2, 0-1 OVC) couldn't bounce back in front of 13,700 fans. Quarterback T.J. Pryor threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns, while Matt Denham ran for 218 yards and two scores to lead the Colonels to 558 yards of total offense on a night that also saw EKU become just the 13th team to score 50 points against the Gamecocks in JSU's program history.

Jacksonville State's offense totaled 366 yards, 181 of those through the air by senior quarterback Marques Ivory. The native of Warner Robins, Ga., bounced back from an 0-for-6 start to complete 14 of his last 20 pass attempts with one score and two interceptions. He also moved up in the JSU record books, running his career passing yards to 3,243 and passing David Gulledge for ninth place in school history. His touchdown pass gives him 28 for his career, passing Ralph Brock in eighth in that category.

EKU jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a Pryor pass to Denham and a run from the tailback to take early control of the game. JSU cut it the deficit to one possession early in the second quarter on a Coty Blanchard pass to Denzel Cheeks, which was followed by a two-point conversion by Jerry Slota that made EKU's lead 14-8.

The Colonels ran away, scoring three more times before taking a 34-8 lead into the half and then once more early in the third quarter to make it a 37-8 game.

Ivory found Gavin Ellis for the junior tight end's first touchdown reception as a Gamecock, a 23-yard toss that made it 37-15 late in the third, but EKU answered with two more scores to make it 51-15 just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter. It marked just the second time the Gamecocks have allowed 50 points or 500 yards against an OVC opponent since joining the league in 2003.

Sophomore DaMarcus James got JSU's last score later in the fourth, a three-yard run that posted the final score on the board and capped a 10-carry, 65-yard night for the Demopolis, Ala., native. Senior Washaun Ealey had 12 rushed for 47 yards.

In his first game of the season after missing the first two to a knee injury, senior widereceiver Trey Smith led JSU with three catches for 64 yards. Freshman Luke Smith, who entered the game without a catch in his young career, had three for 45 yards before the final horn blew.

In the return game, sophomore Gabriel Chambers returned six kickoffs for 186 yards, including a 73-yard return in the first quarter.

Sophomore Ben Endress notched a career-high 11 tackles for the JSU defense, while junior Rashad Smith added nine.

The Gamecocks will return home on Saturday to host Southeast Missouri at 3 p.m. at Burgess-Snow Field.