JACKSONVILLE, Ala. — Nicario Harper's 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown with about five minutes left helped Jacksonville State pull away from Mercer for a 34-28 victory on a rainy Saturday.
Trailing 27-21, Mercer's Harrison Frost completed a pass to Andrew May, but Kolbi Fuqua forced May to fumble and Harper scoped it up and scored to put the Gamecocks ahead 34-21.
Frost threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Dirrim with 51 seconds remaining but the Gamecocks recovered the ensuing onside kick.
The Gamecocks' Zerrick Cooper was 12-of-18 passing for 139 yards with touchdown runs from the 1 and 9. Cooper moved into second past Ed Lett on the school's passing yards list with 7,153. Eli Jenkins holds the record with 7,652 yards.
Frost was 12 of 25 for 134 yards passing with two touchdown passes. Tyray Devezin had a 3-yard touchdown run and finished with 94 yard rushing to surpass 2,000 career yards.
It was the only home game for Jacksonville State (1-1) during its four-game fall schedule, and the first game of Mercer's three-game fall season.
Attendance was 5,870 at 36,265-seat Burgess-Snow Field. Face coverings and social distancing measures were required. It was the first meeting between the schools.