JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University scored 28 points in the third quarter and accumulated 445 yards of total offense to defeat Edward Waters College, 41-7, in front of a crowd of 3,158 at D.B. Milne Field Saturday night.
The win was the first of the Ian Shields era for Jacksonville (1-1), while Edward Waters dropped to 0-3 on the season.
"I thought there was a lot of good things, especially with the second half," said Shields. "I thought we were in excellent condition, operated cleanly, and cleaned up some mistakes in the turnover battle. There's some things to grow on and move forward."
With a 13-7 Dolphin lead at the half, Jake Brito returned the second half kickoff 22 yards to the Jacksonville 40-yard line to setup a six-play, 60-yard drive in which Brito toted the rock the final 24 yards. His 14-yard rushing touchdown was the first of his career.
The Dolphins forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and struck quickly with another trip to paydirt in just three plays. Quarterback Rylan Wells connected with wide receiver Prince Gray for a 35-yard score, the first of the season for both.
With a 20-point lead, the Dolphins forced another Tiger punt and scored on a consecutive quick drive that lasted only four plays and spanned 70 yards. Brian Burnett reeled in a 54-yard catch-and-run, and Ulysses Bryant punched a ticket to the endzone on a seven-yard plunge.
Edward Waters amounted a drive on its next possession that gained 62 yards, but on the seventh play at the JU 20-yard line, Thomas Oporto intercepted Tyler Mahla for the first pick of Oporto's career.
Wells then hooked up with Gray on the next play on a 78-yard passing touchdown in which Gray shook off one defender at the JU 45-yard line, then beat two Tigers to the endzone for his second receiving score of the night.
Wells finished 4-9 for 187 yards and two touchdowns. He carried the ball four times for 50 yards.
Gray led the Dolphin receivers with three receptions for 113 yards and two scores. Bryant was the leading rusher with 14 rushes for 90 yards, while Brito had five for 38. Quarterback K'Lin Epps rushed six times for 45 yards in the fourth quarter. As a team, Jacksonville rushed for 258 yards.
The Dolphin defense limited EWC to 102 yards rushing on 34 carries. Daniel Wright led the Tigers with eight carries for 49 yards and one score. Tyler Mahal was the leading passer with a 12-27, 128-yard night.
Freshman Caysaun Wakeley led the Dolphins with seven tackles, all solo, and two sacks, the first of his career.
Jacksonville scored first thanks to a fortunate bounce. Following an unsuccessful fake punt on fourth and 20 by EWC, JU capitalized with a fifteen-yard drive in only two plays. Pernell Rattray took a pitch for 12 yards, but fumbled going into the endzone. Nic Duch pounced on the loose ball for the first score of his career and the Dolphins led 7-0 with 7:02 remaining in the first quarter.
The Tigers answered with their best drive on the game. With 25 seconds remaining in the first quarter, EWC evened the score at seven on an 11-play, 78-yard drive in which the Tigers never abandoned the ground game. Daniel Wright scored from seven yards out on the only Tiger trip to the endzone.
The Dolphins regained the lead thanks to a 19-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by sophomore Austin Yeloushan with 11:59 on the clock in the second quarter.
"It was a great play by Grady Redding for stripping the ball. It bounced into my hands and there was a wall of teammates leading the way for me," said Yeloushan. "I kind of blanked out when I had the ball but remembered some old Reggie Bush highlight films to try to score."
Jacksonville begins Pioneer Football League play Saturday, Sept. 24 at Stetson with a 7 p.m. kickoff.