Gamecocks fall to Murray State in overtime

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Jacksonville State led Murray in every offensive statistic except for one– the score.

The Racers (3-2, 1-0) defeated the Gamecocks (4-1, 0-1) 35-34 in overtime.

Despite setting a new school Division I record for total offensive yards with 652, the Gamecocks turned the ball over four times.

“Offensively, we did a ton of good things, but too many turnovers,” said Bill Clark, head coach of the Gamecocks. ” We talk about it all the time, we cannot turn the ball over and win, but to overcome that and get the thing to overtime and really should win the game.”

Junior quarterback Max Shortell passed for a career high a career high 283 yards. Unfortunately for him, he threw a career high three interceptions including two on consecutive passes in the fourth quarter.

“Anytime you turn the ball over it hurts, especially in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line,” Shortell said.  We can’t have turnovers, especially by me, the quarterback.”

Even with the four turnovers, JSU still had a chance to win the game late. Shortell led the Gamecocks down the field for a 12 play, 71 yard drive capped off by senior Griffin Thomas’ game tying field goal as time expired. Prior to the field goal, JSU was on the Racers’ six yard line with 19 seconds remaining. The Gamecocks opted to let the clock run down to four seconds and call their final timeout.

The Gamecocks went on offense first in overtime. Junior running back DeMarcus James ran for a 13 yard touchdown. JSU led 34-27.

The Racers took the ball and failed to gain a yard on three straight plays. On fourth and 10, Maikhai Miller hit Jeremy Harness for 13 yards and a first down. The Gamecocks forced another fourth down, this one of the short variety. This time, Miller rushed for a two yard first down followed by a one yard touchdown to tie the game at 34 a piece.

The Racers offense did not leave the field. After the two teams exchanged timeouts, Miller hit Harness for three yards and the win.

“It was a good play call by them,” said sophomore cornerback Jermaine Hough. “We were prepared for them to go for two and then they came out and went for it. We did have a good play called.”

“The two-point, I really had in my mind that if they scored they would go for two,” Coach Clark said. “You could see the guy who had him covered got knocked off. I don’t know what you do about that.”

Lost in the defeat is the performance by DeMarcus James. He rushed for a career high 198 yards and tied his career high in rushing touchdowns. His touchdowns came on runs of 21, one and 13 yards.

“They called me out there to run the ball so when I get out there I got to do what I got to do,” James said. “I just came out and executed.”

Murray State was led in passing by Maikhail Miller. He completed 14 of 16 passed for 109 yards and one touchdown. He also led the Racers in Rushing with 134 yards and two touchdowns.

Duane Brady also added a touchdown run for six yards.

Even in defeat, coach Clark was proud of the way his Gamecocks played.

“All in all, I was proud of them for fighting and not quitting,” he said. “What a job of fighting through and there we are at the end with a chance to win the fang thing and come up just a little bit short.”

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