Jacksonville Sports Day

RECAP: JU Dolphins Prevail in Tale of Two Halves

JACKSONVILLE – In a game seemingly dominated by offense, Jacksonville University football was looking for a big play from its defense to seal the game late. It got one, from none other than senior linebacker and defensive captain Caysaun Wakeley.

He tipped a pass in the flat and intercepted it, returning it 22 yards for the touchdown to put JU up by its final margin of 14 with 8:03 left, cementing a 42-28 victory over Ave Maria at D.B. Milne Field on Saturday.

“I saw the same play earlier in the game, but didn’t make the play on it,” the senior from Aluchua, Fla. said. “They brought in the backup QB and I was able to read it and that time, I made the play.”

The Jacksonville defense allowed only one touchdown in the second half, which turned on its head after the two teams combined to score 52 points in the first half. The Wakeley pick-six earned him player of the game honors and came mere seconds after Zachary Benwick hit his second field goal of the day, from 25-yards out, to extend the lead back out to six for the Dolphins halfway through the fourth and were the only points scored by JU in the half.

All day long, JU battled to keep the Gyrenes at arm’s length. A trick play on the second play of the game put the Dolphins up 7-0. B.J. Riley took a pitch to the right side and then threw deep, finding Mitchell Bailey for a 69-yard touchdown to get the day started in style. After forcing a three-and-out, the JU offense struck quick again, finishing off a six-play drive with Calvin Turner Jr.’s longest run of the season, a 57-yard scamper to pay dirt, making it 14-0 before five minutes had elapsed.

But the Gyrenes rallied, efficiently scoring on a three-yard pass from Will Tate to his fullback Christian Przybysz to cut the deficit to seven, then drove again after holding Jacksonville to a field goal, scoring in just over a minute on a 33-yard pass from Tate to Nicholas Conroy to make it 17-14 early in the second quarter.

JU built the separation back up with 14 unanswered points. Turner Jr. turned a fourth down and one play into a 34-yard touchdown run and A.J. Davis dove over the pile from one-yard out to cap a 10-play, 69-yard drive and it was 31-14 with 4:43 left in the half.

Ave Maria was not ready to back down. They used a four minute drive, helped by a miraculous 33-yard catch by Kevon O’Connor, in which he picked the ball off of his foot after landing in a battle for a 50-50 pass, and consecutive penalties on JU to score a touchdown with 26 seconds left in the opening half and make it a 10 point game, 31-21.

Both teams were held scoreless in the third, as the JU defense forced a 52-yard field goal attempt that missed short and Cedrick Wilcox III intercepted Tate to end another drive for the Gyrenes, while its defense forced back-to-back three and outs for the Jacksonville offense.

Finally, in the fourth, Ave Maria got the second half scoring started, but that was four plays after its dynamic quarterback Tate left the game for good with a foot injury, and backup Kristian Marks was not able to engineer any more scoring drives after Wakeley victimized him on the interception return for a TD.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to the drawing board, correcting our mistakes, and moving forward,” said Wakeley.

Jacksonville heads on the road to face Dayton next Saturday to open up Pioneer Football League play. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

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