POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The last two trips to Marist College have been forgettable ones for the Jacksonville football team. Both contests took place in a nippy, northern November setting with heart-wrenching 42-35 and 17-16 setbacks.
"This is a tough place for us to play and a great challenge for our football team opening the PFL season," said Dolphin Head Coach Kerwin Bell. "We've been up in the game the last two years but we have to finish the game this weekend.
"These guys (Marist) never give you anything cheap, and if you're up, they're going to stay in the game and continue to battle," he said. "We've got to make sure we finish this year."
Saturday's game will mark the opening of Pioneer Football League play for both schools and the first time Jacksonville (2-0) is back in action in two weeks following a bye.
"Preparation leads to success. It was good to have that off week to watch more film on them," said defensive end T.J. Jenkins. "This week is all about focus. We really want to dominate this game after last year's loss. Everybody is focused on doing something that hasn't been done in a little while."
The Dolphins lead the PFL in three defensive categories: scoring, passing per game, and red zone scoring.
The Red Foxes (1-2), who are coming off their first win of the season in a 34-27 triumph over Sacred Heart, are paced by PFL Co-Offensive Player of the Week Marcellus Calhoun. The running back had 196 yards from scrimmage in the win and three scores on only nine touches.
Jacksonville will again look to get its ground game going. With the anticipation of a healthier Ulysses Bryant, the Dolphins are hoping to improve on a rush offense that is only averaging 53.5 yards per game. Marist ranks fourth in the conference allowing 143.3 yards per game on the ground.
It would be remiss to not suggest that special teams will again play a significant role in the game. Punter Ryan Giaratano tops the PFL with 42.2 yards per punt and Terrance Bryant also leads the league with 19.2 yards per punt return.
A win for the 'Fins would move Jacksonville closer to its best start since 2001, when Jacksonville began 4-0, and wrap up a three-game road trip in sweet fashion. Jacksonville returns home next week for three October contests against Morehead State, Stetson, and Edward Waters.
Saturday's kickoff is slated for 12:05 p.m. and can be heard on http://mixlr.com/judolphins/ and on 92.5 FM with Scott Manze and Nolan Alexander. The pregame show will be online-only on the mixlr.com link. Live stats for the game are available at: www.goredfoxes.com.