Jacksonville Sports Day

JU: Dolphins Top Hatters in Conference Football Opener

DeLAND, Fla. – Jacksonville University forced four fumbles and raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead en route to defeating in-state rival Stetson 24-7 to open Pioneer Football League play at Spec Martin Stadium Saturday night.

The win was the first road win under Head Coach Ian Shields and marked the ninth consecutive win in a PFL opener for the Dolphins (2-1, 1-0). Jacksonville remained undefeated all-time vs. Stetson (1-2, 0-1) having taken all four decisions, and has won each game by at least three scores.

“That’s a good victory and team win. We won in the kicking game, the offense got out to an early lead but struggled in the second half, and the defense played lights out,” said Shields. “The turnovers were huge. It’s always about the turnover battle. Our defense rose through adversity with some players going out of the game, and others stepped up.”

The Dolphin defense allowed only 232 total yards and 117 passing yards, while the JU offense amassed 359 total yards. Quarterback Rylan Wells was an efficient 10-16 for 213 yards and two scores. Brian Burnett had career-bests of five receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown. Ulysses Bryant paced the Dolphins in rushing for the third straight game with 22 carries for 72 yards. Harrison Rodormor led the Dolphins with nine tackles, a sack, and three tackles-for-a-loss. In total, the Dolphins brought down six tackles-for-a-loss.

Jacksonville set the tone for the game’s domination from the opening series. The Dolphins forced a Hatter punt and then drove 91 yards on nine plays to take the lead with 7:48 remaining in the first quarter. Wells threw for 82 yards on the drive and capped it off with a 10-yard strike to Frantz Caudio.

The Dolphins opened the second quarter in the midst of what would end up as an 11-play, 80-yard drive that included the second JU fourth down conversion of the game. Jared Morris rambled in from 13 yards for his first career score and the Dolphins led 14-0 with 11:16 left in the second quarter. Morris would finish with six rushes for 35 yards.

After another Hatter punt, the next Dolphin drive went nine plays and 57 yards after Javier Arce-Ramirez drilled his first career field goal with a 43-yarder.

Later, the Dolphins chose to punt with under a minute remaining in the half, but an illegal formation forced a re-punt and Brandon Mayorga recovered a muffed return. On second-and-17, Wells would capitalize on the turnover with a 37-yard pass-and-catch to Burnett.

Wells went 8-of-13 for 189 yards and two scores in the first half. Burnett reeled in 92 yards receiving, and Bryant led all rushers with 62 yards on the ground. The Dolphin defense allowed only 28 rushing yards and 58 passing in the first half.

The Dolphins return home for three consecutive home games beginning with a 1 p.m. kickoff against Duquesne on Oct. 1.

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