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Jermaine Hough leading Jacksonville State in playoffs

A pair of former Clayton County standouts help lead teams into college playoffs

Jermaine Hough

Jermaine Hough

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.Jacksonville State cornerback Jermaine Hough has 45 tackles and an interception this season for the Gamecocks, who play in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday. (Special Photo)

JONESBORO — Jermaine Hough stopped short of calling it the sophomore jinx, but the Jacksonville State cornerback says he isn’t completely satisfied with his season.

After coming off a freshman year that helped him get All-American recognition, Hough said he was a bit underwhelmed with his progress in his second year.

“It went pretty well, but it was sort of a down season for me,” said Hough, a former all-state player at Lovejoy High. “I like to get interceptions, and I only had one. I guess it is not all about that. I only gave up one touchdown on the year.”

While Hough is a hard critic, his play has helped the Gamecocks reach the second round of the Football Championship Series playoffs on Saturday. The No. 20 Gamecocks travels to Lake Charles, La., to take on No. 6 McNeese State.

“”We all know historically that McNeese State is a name that you know in FCS football, and they have always been good and been in the playoffs,” Jacksonville State coach Bill Clark said.

Last week, Hough and his teammates were a part of history at the Alabama school. The Gamecocks 55-14 win over Samford was the program’s first FCS playoff victory in school history.

“It was great being a part of history at this school, which has a lot of tradition,” Hough said. “I think we have a pretty good chance to make some more history.”

Clark, in his first season, took over a program that had 10 straight winning seasons, but had made only one playoff appearance since 2004. This was the Gamecocks first postseason win since winning the 1992 Division II national championship.

Jacksonville State (10-3) recorded double-figure wins for the first time since moving to Division I.

Hough and his defensive mates will be tested against a good Cowboys offense, which ranks fourth nationally in scoring offense, averaging 42.5 points a game. McNeese State has scored 50 or more five times and at least 40 in all but one of its wins.

Coming into the game, Hough has 45 tackles and seven pass break-up to go with an interception. Last season, Hough had 42 tackles, including six tackles for loss and three interceptions while playing in all 11 games. He started the last seven in the defensive backfield.

He earned Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer Team honors following a standout first season. A big honor came for him last January when he was named to the College Sports Journal Freshman All-American Football Team.

Hough was the National Freshman of the Week by The Sports Network on Oct. 22, 2012, after recording two interceptions to help the Gamecocks claim a 31-28 overtime win over No. 17 Tennessee State and snap the Tigers’ seven-game winning streak. He also claimed OVC Newcomer of the Week honors that same week.

But winning postseason accolades is nothing new for the Lovejoy High standout. After helping the Wildcats reach the Class AAAA finals, he was chosen the Georgia Sportswriters Association classification defensive player of the year in addition to earning Clayton News Daily top player recognition.

“I’m happy with my choice of being at Jacksonville State,” Hough said. “It is a good program with a winning tradition.”