Jacksonville Sports Day

JU: Dolphins Rally to Best Presbyterian on the Road

CLINTON, S.C. – A second-half rally fueled Jacksonville University football to a 30-20 win at Presbyterian on Saturday night.

Garnett Nicolas, the Hodges Mazda Player of the Game, and Calvin Turner Jr. each rushed for over 100-yards as the Dolphins outscored PC 24-7 after halftime en route to the program’s first win over a scholarship opponent since the 2015 season opener at Delaware.

“Just a whale of an effort offensively in the second half,” said Head Coach Ian Shields. “Just a testament to our kid’s belief, how hard they’ve worked.

“Huge win for the Dolphins.”

Jacksonville trailed 13-7 at the half, but took the opening possession of the second half and Zach Benwick kicked a 35-yard field goal after a 15-play drive took nearly four minutes off the clock to start the third quarter. After forcing a three-and-out, the offense got the ball back and went right back to work.

Another long, clock-chewing drive went 48-yards in 13 plays after BJ Byrd’s 13-yard punt return into Presbyterian territory and ended in a four-yard pass from Turner Jr. to Mitch Bailey to give JU the lead 17-13.

The Blue Hose battled back, riding their running back Jarius Jeter for 69 yards on the ground on an eight-play, 74-yard drive that ended in a five-yard touchdown pass by true freshman quarterback Tyler Huff to put PC back up, 20-17.

But, the JU offense was not to be denied in the second half. The offense drove the length of the field again, fueled by Jordan Younge-Humphrey’s 25-yard scamper after reversing the field to avoid the defense. The drive ended in paydirt again, with AJ Davis pushing it in from a yard out to move Jacksonville back in front for good, 24-20.

The defense clamped down, forcing PC to punt the ball away after losing seven yards on three plays, and the offense did the rest.

“I thought our defense, by and large, played a phenomenal game,” said Shields. “They were put in some tough positions early on, really proud of their effort.”

JU methodically pushed the ball down the field with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter. Facing a fourth-and-six from the Presbyterian 23-yard line, Calvin Turner Jr. silenced the crowd at Bailey Memorial Stadium with a slippery, 21-yard scamper down to the PC two. Two plays later, he plunged in for his third touchdown of the game to ice it.

Presbyterian struck first, when Jacksonville blocked a punt, but it was scooped up by a PC player behind the line and advanced for a first down. A 31-yard field goal gave the Blue Hose the early 3-0 lead.

JU answered with a 17-play, 81-yard drive that ended in Turner Jr.’s first touchdown run of the day to take its first lead, 7-3.

Presbyterian settled for another field goal after the JU defense bowed up in the red zone, but a high snap over punter Matt Clements head midway through the second quarter set up PC at the JU five, and they scored a touchdown one play later to retake the lead, 13-7.

Cedric Wilcox III intercepted Huff late in the first half, but Jacksonville could not hit a 43-yard field goal as time expired.

Jacksonville had two 100-yard rushers for the first time since the Valparaiso game last November. JU finished with 40:27 time of possession, and ran 46 plays in the second half to Presbyterian’s 16.

JU opens the home slate next Saturday vs. Dartmouth at 1 p.m., and it’s Duval Day at D.B. Milne Field.

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