JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) Malik Jackson rushed for 76 yards and a key touchdown, Jeremiah Harris preserved the win with a huge interception and Jacksonville State celebrated its FBS debut with a 17-14 victory over UTEP on Saturday.

The season and conference opener in the revised Conference USA came down to the final drive by UTEP. The scoring threat ended on a lunging interception by Harris, a seventh-year Gamecocks safety. On third-and-one from the Jax State 24-yard line, UTEP threw to the end zone and Derek Carter broke up Gavin Hardison's pass intended for Kelly Akharaiyi. On fourth down, UTEP threw again and Harris picked off the pass intended for Tyrin Smith.

Jax State led 10-7 at halftime and the Gamecocks stretched their lead to 17-7 midway through the third quarter when a roughing-the-passer penalty and a 44-yard run by Jackson set up his own 7-yard touchdown run.

UTEP closed to 17-14 on a 32-yard pass from Hardison to Akharaiyi early in the fourth quarter.

Gamecocks quarterback Zion Webb, another seventh-year player, completed 10 of 20 passes for 63 yards and rushed for another 55.

Hardison completed 17 of 29 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

The Gamecocks finished their final campaign as an FCS program with a 9-2 overall record and 5-0 mark in Atlantic Sun Conference action last season. They averaged 251 yards per game rushing and gained 208 yards on the ground against UTEP.

Field temperatures were as high as 130 degrees.



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