JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- Southeast Missouri State upset Jacksonville State at home in last season's final game, giving the Redhawks hope they could duplicate that feat on the road.
But this is a much different JSU squad, thanks in large part to the addition of Ryan Perrilloux.
Perrilloux, a junior quarterback, was the MVP of last year's Southeastern Conference title game while playing for national champion LSU.
After running into off-the-field problems that led to his dismissal, Perrilloux transferred to JSU.
Perrilloux has perked up the JSU offense and the Gamecocks' defense has remained stout.
Both units were in fine form Saturday night as preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite JSU, ranked 22nd nationally, eased past the Redhawks 38-17.
"He's a good quarterback and they're a good team," Southeast senior defensive end Ben Gugler said. "Our defense could have done better."
Perrilloux has led the Gamecocks (4-1, 2-0 OVC) to four straight wins. JSU has outscored its last four opponents 131-48 following an opening loss to Division I-A Georgia Tech.
Against Southeast (2-4, 0-2), Perrilloux completed 16 of 22 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns despite sitting out much of the fourth quarter.
Perrilloux was 11 of 15 for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone, although he was sacked three times in the game.
Perrilloux has completed 36 of 47 passes for 520 yards over his last two games.
"He's a good quarterback. We knew he was a good quarterback coming in," said Southeast junior cornerback Eddie Calvin, who had the lone interception of Perrilloux. "But we definitely should have played better defense."
Perrilloux led a JSU attack that piled up 456 yards, including 310 during a first half that ended with the Gamecocks ahead 21-3.
On the other end, Southeast had a solid 371 yards, but 156 of those came in the fourth quarter after JSU had built a 31-3 lead. The Redhawks still have not scored in the first quarter this season and they have only 30 first-half points. Southeast has not led in the opening two periods of any game.
"We've got to score in the first half. That's what it comes down to," Southeast senior wide receiver Mike Williamson said.
The Redhawks did move the ball fairly well between the 40-yard lines, 10 times having a possession reach JSU territory.
But every Southeast drive until the game was out of hand stalled.
The Redhawks' first seven marches into JSU's end failed to penetrate deeper than the JSU 29-yard line.
Southeast's lone points in the opening three quarters came on junior Doug Spada's 46-yard field goal early in the second period that made it 14-3.
"We're not responding to the field position we're getting," Southeast senior quarterback Houston Lillard said. "It's real frustrating."
Trailing 31-3, the Redhawks finally scored a touchdown with 12 minutes, 46 seconds left on a 5-yard pass from Lillard to Williamson.
True freshman quarterback Matt Scheible threw his first collegiate touchdown pass, a 49-yarder to junior wide receiver Walter Peoples with 3:41 left that made it 38-17.
After Southeast recovered an onside kick, Scheible almost led another TD drive, reaching the 1-yard line with under 2 minutes left.
But the Redhawks couldn't punch it in.
"We fought hard. You won't ever see us give us," Gugler said.
Big plays hurt the Redhawks. A 59-yard touchdown run by JSU redshirt freshman tailback Brandon George late in the first quarter opened the scoring.
Leading only 14-3, Perrilloux hit Maurice DuPree on a 41-yard scoring strike just 36 seconds before halftime. That came after Southeast failed on fourth-and-1 at the JSU 30.