Jacksonville Sports Day

Jacksonville Comes Up Short Against Stetson, 27-24

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 53-yard game-tying field goal attempt from Zachary Benwick came up just short, and Jacksonville University football fell 27-24 to Stetson on Saturday at D.B. Milne Field.

The Dolphins (2-7, 0-5) rallied to take the lead twice in the second half, after a first half in which neither team scored a touchdown.

“He [Benwick] has hit from that distance in practice, which is why we elected to give him the chance, but you can’t script that type of game situation,” said Head Coach Ian Shields. “I’m proud of the fight and effort this team showed.

“The defense played hard in the first half and gave us a chance and we were able to make some adjustments on offense to get going in the second half.”

The defenses dominated the first half, with Jacksonville holding Stetson to four field goal attempts in the red zone, of which they converted three. The Dolphins also recorded an interception, when Cedrick Wilcox III jumped a pass in the flat to grab his team-high third pick of the year. JU turned it into its lone points of the first half, a 25-yard field goal from Benwick.

After Stetson led 9-3 at the break, Jacksonville grabbed the momentum in the third quarter. The defense forced a three-and-out, and two plays later Calvin Turner Jr. raced around left end for a 78-yard touchdown run to give the Dolphins its first lead of the game.

After forcing another Hatter punt on the ensuing drive, JU was forced to punt it also. Derrick Stumph’s punt hit a Stetson gunner and Jacksonville dove on it, giving the offense new life. After a first down, Garnett Nicholas broke free for a 30-yard touchdown rumble to extend JU’s lead to 17-9.

Stetson rallied, marching 67-yards in eight plays, capped off by a 25-yard touchdown pass on fourth down and 10. The Hatters then completed the two-point conversion to tie it at 17 late in the third quarter.

A Jacksonville punt gave Stetson the opportunity to retake the lead, which it did on a 29-yard Johnathan Messina field goal, his fourth of the day, to go back on top 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.

The big play offense of JU struck again, as Turner Jr. hit a wide-open BJ Byrd while scrambling to his right for a 64-yard score, again giving the Dolphins the lead, 24-20.

Stetson had the final word, with the Hatters engineering a seven-play, 69-yard drive that ended in a 29-yard touchdown run for Jalen Leary to cap the scoring for the day.

Jacksonville got a stop on Stetson’s next possession, but after driving to the 36-yard line of the Hatters, the game-tying field goal try was just short.

For the second time this season, Byrd racked up 196 yards of total offense, including the first receiving touchdown of his career on his longest catch of the year in the fourth quarter.

JU heads back on the road to face Drake next Saturday at 2 p.m.

GAME NOTES: Garnett Nicholas found the end zone for the first time this season on his 30-yard TD rumble in the third quarter….fter being held under 100-yards rushing in consecutive PFL games for the first time in his career, Turner Jr. bounced back with 160 yards on the ground, his fifth 100-yard game of the season and 12th of his career. His 78-yard TD run in the third quarter was the longest rush of his career. It was also his fifth carry of 70 or more yards in his career. Jacksonville won the turnover battle 2-0. It was the fifth time the Dolphins have won the turnover battle this year.

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