Jacksonville State is no stranger to stepping out of the Football Championship Subdivision to take on a Football Bowl Subdivision foe.
But the Gamecocks must to have had higher hopes for their season opener. JSU fell to No. 8 Michigan State 48-7 on Friday in East Lansing, Mich.
The Gamecocks (0-1) had their work cut out for them facing the reigning Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion. It showed as the Spartans (1-0) reeled off 38-unanswered points.
JSU's lone score came early in the third quarter when senior quarterback Max Shortell hit junior wide receiver Markis Merrill with a 9-yard touchdown pass.
It was Merrill's first game since dislocating his hip and fracturing his pelvis last year against Tennessee State on October 12.
The Gamecock found most of its success through the air. sophomore wide receiver Josh Barge led the team in receiving with 98 yards on seven catches.
Shortell completed 10-of-18 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. He only played in the third quarter.
Starter Eli Jenkins completed five-of 18 passes for 82 yards and two interceptions.
Georgia transfer Christian LeMay took over at quarterback in the fourth quarter. He only completed three-of-six passes for 23 yards and an interception. But, he led JSU in rushing with 27 yards.
Senior linebacker Ben Endress led the Gamecock defense with 10 tackles. Folo Johnson and Jermaine Hough both finished with eight.
First year head coach John Grass will have to wait at least another week for his first win.
JSU will sink back into the FCS ranks and take on Chattanooga on the road on Saturday.
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