It took the Dolphins a while to shake its jet lag but once that happened, the offense finally looked comfortable and the defense and special teams, this time on the coverage side, regained their high level of play and JU scored 31 consecutive points enroute to a 38-17 Pioneer Football League win.
The Dolphins (5-1, 3-0) did their yearly Air Raid game where they leave school Saturday morning, play and fly home in the same day, and the early wake-up call apparently brought the slow start before JU took off.
Once they got airborne, quarterback Kade Bell ran for one score and threw four touchdown passes, three to tight end Andy Robustelli, to lead the win. Robustelli wound up with four receptions for 46 yards and running back Eric Baker became the team’s first 100-yard rusher of the year with 101 yards. Dorian Guy led all receivers with 87 yards on four catches.
“It feels great,’’ Baker said. “I appreciate the o-line; they are working real hard getting their assignments done. This was a big win.’’
Bell, who came into the game having completed 69 percent of his passes the previous two contests, connected on 16 of 22 passes for 238 yards. The offense racked up 480 total yards.
“I want to thank the offensive line and the running backs,’’ Bell said. “Our running backs don’t get enough credit for their pass blocking.’’
In addition to Robustelli’s catches, wide receiver D’Andre Randle caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Bell, who was eight of 10 in the first half, with what turned out to be the winning score with 2:54 in the first half and a 21-17 halftime lead.
“Our guys really battled back and I am really proud of them for that,’’ coach Kerwin Bell said. “We played a bad first half, about as bad as we could play in the first half. We were real lethargic early, maybe it was the early flight. We didn’t get going until the second quarter so I felt good about that.’’
Kade Bell said that he finally is feeling comfortable leading the team and it showed, especially in the second half.
“I’m young and I had to get used to trusting my line and the second half I really got comfortable,’’ he said. “I stood in the pocket and made my reads and did what I had to do.’’
Center Carl Saunders said the comfort level is a two-way street.
Yeah, we’re getting more comfortable with him back there’’ Saunders said. “We know what he’s going to do back there now.’’
The JU defense held the Eagles (1-4, 0-2) to just 264 yards of offense, only 112 rushing.
Defensive lineman Juan Pimienta led the defensive charge with seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for losses and two fumble recoveries, one that stopped a MSU drive near the end of the first half and the second which led to a JU touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Hoka-hey,’’ Pimienta said. “It’s a great day to lay it out for your brother. (Defensive line) Coach (Ernie) Logan is the best d-line coach in the country and I just play for my brothers. I want to win this championship.’’
Coverage on special teams was stifling to the point that another center, Logan Williamson, recovered the first fumble of his career on an Eagle punt return late in the game.
Kerwin Bell said he knew the offense coming around would be a process, but, he is seeing signs it is happening.
“We came out here with about 20 guys who hadn’t seen the field five weeks ago and what we’re seeing now is seeing the growth and gaining confidence,’’ he said. “We were expecting this. We’ve got too much talent to not be a very good offensive team. I am really seeing the strides we’re starting to make.’’
Bell also lauded his son, the quarterback.
“I love a kid that can make plays,’’ the coach said. “He has the feet and the feel for the game. I’m a pretty good play caller, but out of every 10 plays you call three or four the quarterback has got to make smart decisions, they’ve got to be able to move, get out of trouble and make plays on their own and I’ve felt he is going to be that kind of player for us and he did that today.’’