By Barry Allen
MONTGOMERY – It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
Jacksonville State senior quarterback Zion Webb overcame a slow start and then orchestrated a second half comeback to lead the Gamecocks to a 42-17 win over Stephen F. Austin the eighth FCS Kickoff at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
JSU (1-0) scored 35 unanswered points to give head coach Rich Rodriguez the win in his Gamecocks coaching debut.
Webb finished with 219 total yards and three rushing touchdowns in the win. He completed his final eight passes and finished 9-for-16 for 160 yards through the air. He ran the ball 11 times for 54 yards and career-high three TDs.
The game was stopped by a weather delay with 13:16 left in the fourth quarter, when rain and lightning hit the area at 5:33 p.m. (CT). The game was officially called at 7:19 p.m. (CT).
“After suspending play because of lightning with 13:18 in the fourth quarter with Jacksonville State leading 42-17 over Stephen F Austin, it was determined that the game could not be resumed without significant risk to the health and safety of the student athletes,” according to the A-Sun Conference. “Per NCAA rules 3-3-3c(2) and with both institutions in complete agreement, the game was ended with the final score 42-17.”
Trailing 17-7 with 1:56 left in the first half, JSU scored two quick touchdowns to take 21-17 halftime lead.
Senior running back Matt LaRoche scored on an 8-yard run to close the gap to 17-14. Webb set up the score with a 73-yard pass to junior wide receiver Sterling Galban to give the Gamecocks a first-and-goal at the SFA 8-yard line.
The JSU defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession putting the ball back in the hands of Webb, who marched the team 49 yards for the go-ahead score. Webb capped the with a 4-yard TD run to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the game at 21-17.
The Gamecocks scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to increase the lead to 35-17.
Webb capped an 82-yard drive with a 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal to give JSU a 28-17 lead with 8:10 left in the third quarter.
Senior safety Deco Wilson recorded his first career interception to set the up the next score.
Webb capped the 52-yard drive with a 4-yard quarterback keeper to push the lead to 35-17.
After setting up a pair of touchdowns with turnovers, the JSU defense got a touchdown of its own when linebacker Cole Fuller recovered a fumble in the end zone with 3:16 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 42-17.
Stephen F. Austin (0-1) took advantage of a pair of early JSU turnovers to take a 17-7 lead.
Webb struggled early on for the Gamecocks with two turnovers in the first four possessions.
The Lumberjacks took advantage of the miscues.
SFA senior quarterback Trae Self completed a 1-yard TD pass to junior wide receiver Darryle Simmons on a fourth-and-goal to give the Lumberjacks a 7-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter.
JSU answered with a 13-play, 75-yard drive, capped by running back Pat Jackson’s 1-yard to tie the game at 7-7.
Self hooked up with senior wide receiver Xavier Gipson on a 50-yard scoring strike to give SFA a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Chris Campos’ 36-yard field goal pushed the lead to 17-7 with 6:33 left in the first half.
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