Dolphins fall at #1 Appalachian State, 56-7

The JU football program made its debut on the big-time stage Saturday against top-ranked Appalachian State.

                In front of a school-record crowd of 30,718 at Kidd-Brewer Stadium, Appalachian State showed why they are the three-time defending national champions, running away from the Dolphins, 56-7.

                Robert Welton rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns to lead ASU (1-1) to its eighth straight win at the home opener.  Quarterback Armanti Edwards threw for 45 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 77 yards and another score.

                The Mountaineers rolled up 540 yards of offense, rushing for 448 yards on 56 plays.  Devon Moore just missed out on another 100-yard effort, gaining 94 yards on nine carries with one touchdown.

                “Appalachian State is a very good team with a lot of very talented players than are big-play makers,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell.  “I’m proud of how hard our kids played throughout the game and they never quit.  This was a great experience for our kids and our program as we look to build a program like theirs.”

                The Dolphins got their only score on a 60-yard punt return by sophomore Elliott Finkley in the third quarter, breaking a tackle to put the Dolphins on the board just five minutes into the half.  It was JU’s first punt return for a touchdown since Nate Conner’s 67-yard return against Austin Peay in 2005.

                JU (1-1) got 198 yards in the air from freshman quarterback Josh McGregor in his first collegiate start.  He completed 21-of-34 passes, with a long of 35 to Geavon Tribble, as eight Dolphins caught a pass in the contest.  Rudell Small rushed for 56 yards on 11 carries as the Dolphins produced 244 yards of total offense.

                The Dolphins defense had the first big play of the game as Robson Noel picked off an Edwards pass deep in JU territory to give the Dolphins the ball for the first time.

                JU marched down the field when its opening drive stalled at the ASU 43-yard line and was thwarted on a fourth-and-inches try.

                With the first seven minutes being scoreless, the Mountaineers put up three touchdowns in the next six minutes to take a 21-0 lead.  Welton opened the scoring with a 44-yard run, Devon Moore followed with an 11-yard scamper and Armanti Edwards wrapped up the spurt with a 28-yard run with 2:58 left in the opening stanza.

                 The Mountaineers took a 28-0 lead into the locker room at halftime courtesy of Edwards 6-yard toss to Tavaris Johnson with 11:06 left in the first half.

                ASU extended the lead with Welton scoring from two yards out to take a 35-0 lead with 9:59 left in the third quarter.

                After Finkley’s touchdown return, ASU marched right back down the field as Welton scored on the next play from scrimmage, a 72-yard scamper, to take a 42-7 lead.

                The Mountaineers took advantage of the Dolphins’ first turnovers, a 33-yard interception return by Travis Dowda of a McGregor pass early in the fourth quarter to make it 49-7.

                The Dolphins return home for a big game as they open their home schedule against Pioneer Football League newcomer Campbell.  Kickoff at D.B. Milne Field is set for 1 p.m.