Jacksonville Sports Day

Dolphins Come Up Just Short in PFL Home Opener

JACKSONVILLE – A fourth down pass fell incomplete after Jacksonville University football drove to the Morehead State 42-yard line, and the Dolphins say its final effort to rally come up short in a 30-22 loss on Saturday at D.B. Milne Field.

JU (2-4, 0-2) rushed for 448 yards, but fumbled the ball away four times on the afternoon.

The first giveaway of the game came on the first drive, when Calvin Turner Jr. and A.J. Davis mishandled a handoff, and Morehead State used some razzle-dazzle to take an early lead. A throwback pass from one quarterback to the other who was lined up out wide, resulted in a 49-yard touchdown pass.

Jacksonville immediately responded, marching 75-yards in 10 plays, overcoming two false start penalties along the way to tie the game at seven when B.J. Riley ran it in from 11-yards out.

It seemed to be headed for a shootout, but the defenses had other plans. The Eagles drove down to the Jacksonville 1-yard line, but turned it over on downs when the Dolphin defense held them on four straight plays inside the five.

JU fumbled for the second time on the ensuing drive and Morehead State tried to go for the end zone quickly, but senior rover Jeremiah Johnson stepped in front of the pass at the goal line to record his first career interception. He finished the day with a career-best 11 tackles to lead the resurgent Dolphin defense, en route to earning Hodges Mazda Player of the Game.

Another long MSU drive took them down to the shadow of the goal line, but the JU defense stiffened again. The Eagles ran four more plays inside the ten, and were again stymied by the defense, with Johnson and Joel Morris denying the final attempt from the one-yard line.

Morehead State closed out the half with a 43-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead into the break, and connected on a 45-yard try and a 37-yard kick in the third quarter to lead 16-7 with just over three minutes left in the quarter.

Back-to-back fumbles killed promising JU drives to open the second, but in the waning seconds of the third quarter, the Dolphins found the end zone again. Jordan Younge-Humphrey took a Turner Jr. pitch and scampered down the left sideline 54-yards to score and cut the Eagles advantage to two, 16-14.

After forcing a punt, JU used two big run plays to set up the go-ahead score. Turner Jr. exploded up the middle for 40 yards and Garnett Nicolas took the next carry 37-yards down to the MSU 16-yard line, before Davis punched it in from one-yard out three plays later to give Jacksonville its first and only lead of the day, 22-16 after a successful two-point conversion.

Morehead State rallied, converting a third-and-seven on their next drive, and finally scoring a touchdown inside the red zone on a one-yard run to retake the lead, 23-22 with 2:30 to play in the fourth quarter. JU went four-and-out, and the defense allowed Morehead State to rush for a 24-yard touchdown on the first play of the next drive in order to get the ball back sooner. The Dolphins took over with 1:36 left, and drove to the MSU 42, but stalled there.

Jacksonville returns to action next week, welcoming Davidson to D.B. Milne Field for homecoming. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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