Jacksonville State hopped on a plane to Tulsa, Oklahoma for their matchup with the Golden Hurricane on Saturday. The undefeated JSU team, 3-0, has looked about as good as it gets to open the 2022 season. Coming off an impressive 34-3 victory over the Murray State Racers in Kentucky last weekend, the Gamecocks were throttled by Tulsa on the road.
Despite such a stellar start to the year, Jacksonville State’s momentum got the best of them, dropping this one by a lopsided final score of 54-17. There was a lot to be learned from JSU’s first loss of the season on Saturday night. The main lesson to be learned is that the FBS level of competition is no joke, and certainly no easy game.
Tulsa was the Gamecocks biggest test in the early season, as the Golden Hurricane are the only FBS team slated on the Gamecocks schedule for the year. This game represents what JSU has been building towards in recent seasons, as they march into the FBS and Conference USA play in 2023.
After winning the opening coin toss, it was a struggle for much else to fall in favor of the Gamecocks early on. Once Jacksonville State opted to receive the ball after halftime, the Golden Hurricane rolled their fierce offense out to start the game. Despite an early sack from redshirt sophomore Chris Hardie, as well as another one shared by senior captains Stevonte Tullis and Markail Benton, Tulsa put an early seven points on the board via a four-yard touchdown from their senior running back, Steven Anderson.
The fourteen-play drive to kick off the game for the Golden Hurricane was just the start for Tulsa's offensive and defensive units on the night. The team would proceed to not only hold Jacksonville State scoreless in the first quarter, but also added a safety and a forty-four-yard field goal to make it 12-0 heading into the second quarter.
As the game went on, not a whole lot changed for the Gamecocks. The second quarter spotlight was stolen by Tulsa’s quarterback, Davis Brin who recorded his first passing touchdown on the night along with two others before halftime. Brin was also joined by Anderson again, notching his second rushing touchdown of the half. There was still a positive note to end the half for JSU, sophomore kicker Alen Karajic sank a field goal from forty-six-yards out, to cut the lead at half to 40-3.
The second half saw a few sparks from Jacksonville State’s offense, but there was still no stopping the firepower for the Golden Hurricanes on defense. The Gamecocks rallied for two rushing touchdowns in the second half, one coming from senior quarterback Zion Webb, who started the game on the bench for JSU. Despite the team’s efforts, they could not keep Tulsa from putting up another two touchdowns through the air to close out the game, 54-17.
The Gamecocks will set course to Louisiana next week, as they try to bounce back against Nicholls next Saturday, September 24, on the road. Despite this week's setback, Jacksonville State still played exceptionally hard beneath the wing of new head coach Rich Rodriguez. Under his leadership the team will look to rebound next week, because that win will be a vital confidence boost as JSU prepares for conference play the following week.