JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University football team goes on its shortest trip this weekend heading to DeLand for a meeting with Stetson at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Dolphins (5-1, 4-0) are in the second phase of a five-game road trip and looking to extend their five game win streak. A win would solidify the Jacksonville hold on the top spot in the Pioneer Football League in what Coach Kerwin Bell terms a rivalry game.
"It's an in-state rival and we're treating it like a rivalry,'' Bell said. "It's in the state of Florida and a battle of two teams that are really close (geographically). There's a lot of personal feelings and they want to prove something to us. I think our team understands we need to prove something in this rivalry because we didn't play our best against them last year (a 45-24 Jacksonville win).''
Stetson (2-4, 0-2) took a tough loss on the long trip to San Diego last week. The Hatters twice turned the ball over in the final minutes while driving and fell 31-23.
"They went to San Diego and stayed within a touchdown there so they've played some good ball,'' Bell said. "They've lost a couple of tough ones or they may be sitting here at 4-2. Listen, they're a confident team, they've played well and they should be. Their record is not where it needs to be but they've played good ball.''
Among many concerns, Bell pointed out that Stetson sophomore quarterback Ryan Tentlar gives opponents fits with his ability to both run and throw. He led Stetson in rushing last week with 118 yards on only eight carries and has 895 yards passing this year.
"Last year he ran and threw and did what he wanted the first three quarters of the game against us,'' Bell said. "That's what he thinks about Jacksonville football and if you're the quarterback you're probably comfortable about playing us again because he had a great game against us and hardly got touched.''
This year, the Dolphins defense has been stingy and ball hawking and has a turnover ratio of plus seven. Included are 14 interceptions which is but two off the school record 16 for a season last accomplished in 2010. Last week against Morehead State, defensive back Dallas Jackson had two picks and has three on the season.
On offense, quarterback Kade Bell and his band of receivers have scored no less than 29 points in any of the five consecutive wins. Against Morehead State last week, Bell threw for a career-high 441 yards and six touchdowns.
Still, last year's performance lingers with coach Bell.
"I want to show them who real Jacksonville football is and I don't think we showed them that last year. They played with us for a while and they have improved,'' he said. "But on our end we're saying was that really us?''
The game will be broadcast on 92.5 FM with the pregame show to start at 5:30 p.m.
- The win over Morehead State gave coach Kerwin Bell his 41st Pioneer Football League win at JU, third best all-time in the league. Mike Kelly of Dayton (15 years) is atop he list with a 55-16 record (.775) and Rob Ash of Drake (14 years) is tied with Bell with 41 wins (41-23, .641). Bell, in his eighth year, is 41-18 (.695).
- JU leads the PFL in total offense at 441.8 yards per game overall and 509 yards in PFL only games. The Dolphins also lead in pass offense at 280/322.3 yards per game.
- Quarterback Kade Bell (Fleming Island, Fla.) set career high marks for passing yards (441), touchdowns (6) and completions (26) against Morehead State and won the PFL Offensive Player of the Week award for the second time this season.
- The JU defense intercepted three passes, two by Dallas Jackson (Palmetto, Fla.) and one by Armani Sampson (Brandon, Fla.), giving the unit 14 on the season. the school record is 16 in a season accomplished four times the last time being the 2010 season. The team is tied for first nationally with Northern Colorado.