LYNCHBURG, Va. – Jacksonville University met Liberty in its season opener Saturday night, and rushed for 173 yards before falling, 55-7, at Williams Stadium. Running back Ulysses Bryant gained 115 yards of total offense.
"We played exceptionally hard. We didn't play exceptionally well, but we had guys that played hard," said Head Coach Ian Shields. "I thought we cleaned up some things offensively in the second half. We played a really good, scholarship-level FCS program that has won a lot of games. We are not at that level yet, but we will be in the future and it's going to take time."
The Dolphins scored their lone touchdown of the night on a 20-yard rush by Pernell Rattray. Quarterback Rylan Wells delivered the pitch, and the score capped a successful 10-play, 79-yard drive that took 5:20 off of the clock.
Wells finished the game 11-19 with 126 yards and two interceptions. Prince Gray led all Dolphin receivers with four receptions for 59 yards. He was one of four Dolphins with a catch.
Bryant hauled in three passes for 40 yards, and was the leading rusher with 13 carries for 75 yards. Jamal Adjamah rushed three times for 32 yards, and Wells had nine carries for 34 yards.
Liberty began its scoring with an 11-play, 81-yard drive on its opening possession. Quarterback Stephon Masha tossed a two-yard fade to B.J. Farrow for the first Flames touchdown.
Liberty, undefeated at home last season, carried a 21-0 lead with just 30 seconds left in the half following a scoring pass from Masha to Dante' Shells and four-yard plunge by Frankie Hickson. Consecutive fumbles, two of three JU turnovers committed in the quarter, allowed the home side to close out the half on a 10-0 run.
Liberty took a 31-0 lead into the break and outscored Jacksonville 10-0 in the third quarter thanks to a 35-yard pass from Masha to Shells and 37-yard field goal by Alex Probert. Masha finished 13-19 with three touchdowns and one interception by KJ Jenkins in the second quarter. Todd Macon led the Flames with 16 carries for 128 yards.
Hosting Edward Waters on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m., the Dolphins open the home portion of their 2016 schedule with the Jacksonville Classic.
For tickets, visit JUTickets.com.