ATLANTA — Returning to the scene of the crime, Marques Ivory once again helped steal a win from a metro Atlanta team hoping for a big victory.
On Saturday at the Georgia Dome, Ivory scored from the 2-yard line on Jacksonville State’s first possession in overtime to lead the fourth-ranked Gamecocks to a win over upset-minded Georgia State. The winning score capped a big day for Ivory, who completed 24-of-32 passes for a career-high 283 yards and a touchdown.
“I was real comfortable,” he said.
Ivory is no stranger to the Dome. Saturday’s game was his fourth at the facility. In December of 2007, as Northside’s quarterback, an injured Ivory came off the bench to spark a memorable Eagles comeback against Tucker in the GHSA Class AAAA semifinals. In that game, he threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns — all in the second half.
Then as now, one of Ivory’s favorite targets was cousin Kevyn Cooper. In that semifinal game, Cooper caught five passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, all but locking up a scholarship offer from Jacksonville State.
“That played a big role,” Cooper said Saturday. “(Jacksonville State) said if I had a big game and showed I could play, they’d give me a scholarship.”
Against Georgia State, Cooper caught two balls from Ivory for 34 yards. He’s among a cadre of playmakers at Ivory’s disposal. Eight different Gamecocks caught passes in the Georgia State game.
Ivory is No. 1 at quarterback on the Jacksonville State depth chart, but he shares time with Coty Blanchard, the player head coach Jack Crowe turns to when he’s looking for a change of pace. That’s fine by Ivory, who said the two work well together on and off the field.
“We know our roles on this team,” Ivory said.
Ivory does seem to be the quarterback the Gamecocks look to at crunch time. His fourth-quarter numbers support Crowe’s confidence. On Saturday, Ivory was 9-of-11 passing for 82 yards in the fourth quarter. In the Gamecocks’ two prior games, he was 17-of-24 for 216 yards and two touchdowns in fourth-quarter play.
Partly because of Ivory’s efforts, Jacksonville State is gaining a reputation as a team that performs in crunch time. Two of the Gamecocks’ wins have come in overtime.
“We’re a fourth-quarter team,” Cooper said. “We’ve got more heart. Even though the games are close, we always know how to finish.”
That’s something he and Ivory learned at Northside, he added.
“We brought that tradition here,” he said.