JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The instate rivalry between Jacksonville and Stetson is just beginning. Meeting on the football field for the first time ever, the Dolphins scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to pull away from the Hatters and claim a 45-24 victory.
Sophomore running back Frantz Caudiorushed for 195 yards on 19 carries and added a 40 yard receiving touchdown while quarterback Kade Bell went over 300 yards for the fourth straight game to lead Jacksonville (5-6; 4-4). Bell added four touchdowns, including two to junior Andrew Robustelli, who recorded 101 yards and became the first Dolphins player to go over 1,000 receiving in a single season (1,063).
Despite another 600-plus yards of total offense from Jacksonville, it was a defensive play that turned the tide for the Dolphins.
Freshman Charles Jimenez, who was drafted to play baseball by the Seattle Mariners out of high school, curtailed what would have been a go-ahead Stetson score in the final play of the third quarter. With the game tied at 24-24 and the Hatters driving deep into JU territory, Jimenez scooped up an errant pitch from Hatters quarterback Ryan Tentler and raced 60 yards for the score.
The big defensive play by Jimenez helped ignite a three-and-out on the following Stetson possession. After a 31 yard punt return by senior Adrian Riley, the Dolphins were in business again needing only a 13 yard run from Caudio and a 25 yards touchdown pass from Bell to Robustelli to regain the momentum needed to salt the game away.
With the defense rolling along, sophomore D'Andre Randle (six catches, 137 yards) added a final Jacksonville score on a 37 yard receiver screen pass from Bell with 4:14 left to play.
Playing in its first football season since 1956, Stetson (2-8; 1-6) seemed destine to make a quick return to past glory. Matched up against one of the most prolific offenses in the nation in Jacksonville the Hatters proved up to the challenge for the better part of three quarters before the experienced Dolphins took over.
Down 10-7 near the start of the second quarter, the Dolphins tied the game on a 36-yard field goal from Dylan Lynch. One possession later Caudio took a 40 screen pass from Bell into the endzone for a 17-10 Jacksonville lead at the half.
Freshman running back Ulysses Bryant, who finished with 70 yards on the day, started the second half with a 30 yard touchdown run as the Dolphins appeared to be headed to another easy victory.
The Hatters didn't go away so easily. Stetson answered with a seven play, 83 yards drive capped off a four-yard touchdown from Dre Long. On the next JU possession, Ryan Powers swooped in to block a Lynch punt then recovered the ball and ran 28 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 24-24 with 3:09 left in the third quarter.
Jacksonville drove into Stetson territory once more, but a tipped pass from Bell was intercepted to keep momentum going with the Hatters. Starting the drive on its own 13, Stetson drove down to the JU 28 before the fumble returned by Jimenez brought the Dolphins back to life.
Jimenez who earned his first collegiate start at linebacker today finished with seven tackles. One of 15 players playing in his final game, senior Andre Addison led JU with 10 tackles and finished his career with 160.
• Jacksonville's 633 yards of total offense mark the fifth highest single game total in school history, its the thrid time this year the Dolphins have been over 600 yards and the seventh time over 500 yards
• Jacksonville set a program record with 5,750 yards of total offense this season
• Dylan Lynch set a single season school record with 61 PATs, converting all 61 attempts and 64 straight dating back to last season
• Ulysses Bryant's 710 rushing yards this season are the most by a JU freshman since 1998 when Greg Portee had 747 in the Dolphins first season
• In his eight games this season Kade Bell threw for 2397 yards and 25 touchdowns, averaging 299.6 yards per game