JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Zerrick Cooper threw three touchdown passes to Shaq Davidson and Jacksonville State held on to beat East Tennessee State 34-27 on Saturday night in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Jacksonville State (9-3) will play at seventh-seeded Maine (8-3) in the second round on Saturday.
Cooper was 20 of 32 for 226 yards passing and is the first quarterback in the program to surpass 3,000 yards in a season. Davidson had five catches for 69 yards.
Austin Herink was 17-of-39 passing for 260 yards with a touchdown and interception East Tennessee State, and his 10-yard run capped the scoring. It was the first playoff appearance for ETSU since 1996.
Trailing 34-27 late in the fourth quarter, Quay Holmes rushed for 20 yards and caught a 25-yard pass to help drive the Buccaneers to the Jacksonville State 4. But Zack Woodard forced Holmes to fumble the ball into the end zone for a touchback with 2:38 to play. ETSU got the ball back with 1:39 left and no timeouts, and drove to their own 44-yard line but the drive ended with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-10.
ETSU built a 20-10 halftime lead on two JJ Jerman field goals, a 3-yard TD toss from Herink to Evan Wick, and Titus Tuckers’s 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
But it was all Jacksonville State for much of the second half.
Davidson made a juggling catch in the corner of the end zone from five yards out, and Cade Stinnett’s 22-yard field goal tied the game at 20 in the third quarter. In the fourth, Cooper threw a strike to Davidson in the middle of the field, who broke one tackle and stretched over the goal line for a 13-yard score. Marlon Bridges’ 32-yard pick-6 gave the Gamecocks a 34-20 lead with 10:35 remaining.
ETSU receiver Kobe Kelley was taken off the field on a stretcher late in the game. He gave a thumbs-up in response to the ovation from the crowd.