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Jacksonville State the new Darling of College Football Following Shock Win

Written by:
Associated Press
Published on:
Sep/12/2021

TALLAHASSEE — (AP) - Jacksonville State earned $400,000 for a trip to Tallahassee. It was a night and victory the Gamecocks will savor for a lifetime.

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Zerrick Cooper connected with Damond Philyaw-Johnson on a 59-yard touchdown as time expired and Jacksonville State upset Florida State 20-17 on Saturday night.

“You’ve got to play at a certain level execution-wise in these type games and we did that tonight,” Jacksonville State coach John Grass said. “(Damond) beat his man, Zerrick made a perfect throw, he made a great cut down there and Ahmad (Edwards) made a big block and got him in the end zone.”

A year ago, Jacksonville State had a 14-0 lead after a quarter against Florida State. On Saturday, the Gamecocks (1-1) needed touchdowns on their final two drives but enjoyed late magic as they celebrated by planting a flag at midfield on the Seminoles’ logo.

Jacksonville State players celebrate after their 20-17 win in Tallahassee. [ PHIL SEARS | Associated Press ]

Cooper completed 17 of 38 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. The senior surpassed Eli Jenkins (7,652 yards from 2013-16) as JSU’s all-time passing leader. He now has 7,819 passing yards for his career.

The Seminoles (0-2) were sluggish from the start as they played six days after an overtime loss to No. 9 Notre Dame. Florida State lost for the first time in 27 matchups against Football Championship Subdivision teams.

“We came out and definitely did not play in any way to the standard of what we are capable of,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “The self-inflicted mistakes, penalties, that’s 100 percent on me. Did not have the guys ready to go. That’s something that will be fixed and will be addressed. That was a very disappointing performance for our football team.”

As drops and penalties stalled the offense, the Seminoles often leaned on the running game. Jashaun Corbin rushing 15 times for 109 yards and a 12-yard touchdown. Florida State ran 37 times for 202 yards.

McKenzie Milton made his first start at Florida State, completing 18 of 31 passes for 133 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Milton had not started a game since November 2018 at UCF, playing in two series late in Florida State’s season-opening loss to Notre Dame.

“It’s embarrassing,” Milton said. “We’ve got to own that. That’s who we are. That’s who we are today. We lost to Jacksonville State and we’re 0-2. All we can do is look forward. We’ve got Wake Forest next.”

The game was often marred by inconsistency in the passing game for both teams as well as a combined 24 penalties.

Jacksonville State has now beaten Division I-A teams in back-to-back years. The Gamecocks defeated Florida International 19-10 in 2020.

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