DAYTON, Ohio-The chips are still on the table. Despite last week's gut-wrenching loss at Drake, Jacksonville (6-1) still has a chance to "be legendary". The Dolphins are aiming to repeat atop the Pioneer Football League standings, post-season eligibility be naught; a feat that has never been accomplished in program history.
"I conveyed to the team that we still have a lot to play for. It's a tough loss. I sort of didn't say anything to the team for a day or two and let them get over it," said Head Coach Kerwin Bell. It's such a big blow for us because I know it's what our guys wanted and I felt bad for them, but as I talked to our seniors, I told them that this is a new beginning we still have a lot to fight for. We have a chance to be best in our league back-to-back years, which has never been done around here in JU history."
He was happy with how the Dolphins have responded in preparation for the game this week.
"We've got a chance to come knock off an undefeated team up in Dayton. This week there's a lot to play for and I really like how our kids approached practice this week, they came back with a lot of energy. We talked about showing a lot of excitement this week. I think our kids are building of off that and they are really practicing well so far," said Bell.
"Finishing is really important this week against Dayton," said offensive tackle Tyler Adrian, who also hopes to use last week's result as motivation for Saturday. "You have to use the loss as fuel to remember what it felt like to walk off that field and make it the only time that you want feel that this year."
If the Dolphins do find themselves ahead, closing out the deal will be a tough negotiation. Dayton (7-0) has been resilient with five of its seven wins resulting from second half comebacks. The Flyers have also been without their top player, All-America running back Conner Kacsor, who ended his career with a knee injury in early October, but a trio of running backs has stepped in his place with solid production.
Dayton enters the game as one of five unbeaten forces remaining in the FCS, but some of the toughest contests of the Flyers' conference schedule lie ahead with road tilts at Morehead State and Drake. Jacksonville plays two of its final three games at home, against Davidson and Valparaiso, with a road trip to Campbell sandwiched in between.
The last Dolphin-Flyer game was an instant classic when, in 2012, Colby Walden returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the fourth quarter to lead Jacksonville to a 21-17 victory at Welcome Stadium. The Dolphins lead the series all-time 4-3, including wins in the last three matchups.
Saturday's kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. and can be heard on http://mixlr.com/judolphins/ and on 1010 AM with Scott Manze and Nolan Alexander. The pregame show will be online-only on the mixlr.com link. Live stats and a free video stream for the game are available at: www.DaytonFlyers.com.