Matching up against the Ohio Valley Conference’s best team led Eastern Illinois head coach Kim Dameron to issue a warning.
“If we turn the ball over, we don’t have a chance,” he told the media this week.
Though the Panthers limited their turnovers to only one Saturday, they still had nary a chance against seventh-ranked Jacksonville State, which won a 49-22 rout in Jacksonville, Ala., dropping Eastern to 1-6 this season.
JSU sophomore quarterback Zerrick Cooper, a Clemson transfer, piled up 270 yards of total offense and was responsible for four touchdowns. Cooper, who passed for 40 yards, was one of six players who helped the Gamecocks (5-1) gain 215 rushing yards.
JSU led 21-9 at halftime thanks to a rushing and passing TD from Cooper. In the third quarter, he helped extend the lead to 35-9 with 35- and 31-yard TD passes to standout wide receiver Josh Pearson, who had eight catches for 137 yards and three scores.
Eastern’s offense relied greatly on the passing game, which provided 350 of its 365 total yards. Junior quarterback Johnathan Brantley was 28-for-39 passing for 243 yards and two passing TDs.
Senior wide receiver Alexander Hollins, who entered the game with the nation’s most receiving TDs, caught nine passes for 81 yards and a score.
5 Stats That Stood Out
0.8 – Yards per carry for the EIU rushing game on 19 carries.
3 – Field goals made in three attempts by Eastern kicker Nick Bruno. His longest kick was a 40 yarder.
7 – Tackles for loss for Jacksonville State, which entered the game with 44 for the season.
8 – Team-high tackles for EIU defensive back Javon Turner.
90 – Team-high receiving yards for Eastern senior WR Aaron Gooch, who had seven receptions and one touchdown.
UT-Martin at Eastern Illinois, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20; Game will air on ESPN3.