Clark era begins at Jax State
The first touchdown of the Bill Clark era as Jacksonville State’s head football coach electrified the record J-Day Game crowd at Burgess-Snow Field.

It also gave the more than 4,000 Gamecock fans on hand Friday night for the annual spring game a sampling of what they can expect from JSU’s up-tempo offense this fall.

The White team scored all of its points during the second quarter to claim a 17-13 win over the Red to conclude JSU’s first spring practice under Clark. Troymaine Pope and DaMarcus James each ran for a touchdown and senior Griffin Thomas added a 38-yard field goal to account for the White points.

“I think organizationally it is what we want,” Clark said. “I’m pleased we came away with no major injuries; with us being a little banged up it was a big concern, but we made it through.

“I saw good individual effort. I was definitely pleased with the crowd tonight, the band was there and all those good things, so I definitely think it was a good night.”

Quarterback Eli Jenkins, a sophomore who played at Birmingham’s Huffman High School, was a combined 10-of-19 for 194 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in stints with both offenses. His first pass was an 85-yard touchdown strike to Wesley Warren on the Red team’s first play from scrimmage.

“I think this was Jenkins’ night,” Clark said, “and if we had not turned it over I think this really would have been his night. When he came out and had the explosive first play, you really see his athleticism and how he can move (and) he has a great arm.”

The Red offense accounted for 320 yards – including 292 passing – to the White’s 254. Running back Pope of the White team was the game’s leading rusher with 55 yards on 14 carries, while James added 46 yards on 12 carries.

Jenkins’ long touchdown pass and Griffin Thomas’ extra point gave the Red a quick 7-0 lead. Thomas, who handled the place-kicking duties for both teams, added a 28-yard field goal late in the first quarter to cap a 14-play, 79-yard drive that extended the Red lead to 10-0.

Junior cornerback Denzel Bynum intercepted two Red passes in the second quarter and both led to White touchdowns.

His first interception and 29-yard return of a Tyler Will pass at the start of the second quarter gave the White possession at the Red 47. Pope rushed five times on the ensuing drive, capping it off with a 4-yard TD run with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

Bynum intercepted a Jenkins pass midway through the second quarter and returned it 27 yards to the Red 1. James ran into the end zone on first down and Thomas added the PAT to give the White its first lead, 14-13, at the 5:23 mark.

Thomas finished off the game’s scoring by tacking on a 38-yard field goal for the White as time expired in the first half.

Both teams failed to score in the second half, which consisted of 15-minute quarters with a running clock.

Jamal Johnson and Kyle Pope each had a game-high six tackles for the White defense.

Jacksonville State opens its 2013 season on Aug. 31 at Alabama State.
© 2013