E.A. Sports Today

MSU drubs Gamecocks in Grass’ debut

EAST LANSING, Mich. — No. 8 Michigan State scored on six of its seven first-half possessions and beat Jacksonville State 45-7 Friday night in Gamecocks’ coach John Grass’ first game as a college head coach.

JSU’s only points came in the third quarter when Max Shortell finished off a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Markis Merrill. Shortell threw for 117 yards in the second half.

Much like their game at Florida two years ago, the Gamecocks got a big play on their first play, but ended with nothing to show for it. Eli Jenkins threw a 32-yard pass to Josh Barge; it turned out to be their longest gain of the game.

Michigan State amassed 393 yards to JSU’s 89 in building a 38-0 halftime lead. It was the largest halftime deficit in the Gamecocks’ Division I football history. The Spartans scored on touchdown passes of 64, 71 and 17 yards by Connor Cook and runs of 17 and 8 yards by Nick Hill. They also kicked a field goal.

JSU senior running back DeMarcus James, a candidate for the Walter Payton Award, managed just 17 yards on three carries, ending a streak of 12 straight games with a rushing touchdown. The Gamecocks were held to 22 yards rushing by one of the best defenses in the country.

The Gamecocks received a guarantee of more than $600,000 to play the game.

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