JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville University rolled up 579 yards of total offense and quarterback Rylan Wells ran for four touchdowns in a 41-35 Senior Day victory against Marist Saturday at D.B. Milne Field.
Jacksonville (5-5, 4-3) continued to bridge the gap to the future as juniors Wells and Brian Burnett, along with freshmen Irvin Riley and Tommy Mack, made crucial plays against Marist (5-6, 5-3). Wells rushed 22 times for 114 yards, and was 14-21 through the air for 255 yards. It marked the fourth-consecutive game that he rushed for over 100 yards. Burnett had a career-best 10 catches for 170 yards, and Riley led the Dolphins with 115 rushing yards.
"I don't worry about stats much, just winning games," said Wells, whose 11 rushing touchdowns this season were fourth-best in JU single-season history. "It all goes the o-line and receivers blocking, so any success comes from them."
"It's great to get a victory for our seniors and walk off the field for the last time victorious," said Head Coach Ian Shields. "I was pleased with how we played today."
Mack's first interception of his career came at a crucial time. With JU leading by six and 8:05 remaining in the game, Marist blocked its second punt and took over at the JU 28-yard line. The Red Foxes drove to the Dolphin 14, but a third-and-10 Mike White pass was intercepted by Mack at the five-yard line.
Mack returned the interception to the 32, and the Jacksonville offense picked up a third-and-seven on a 12-yard Burnett reception to continue possession and run out the clock.
The Dolphins led 24-14 at the halftime break and added on with a 40-yard field goal by Javier Arce-Ramirez, his second of the day and ninth-straight to end the season, which began a second-half shootout with 4:07 remaining in the third.
Both sides would then trade touchdowns to close out the third quarter, with Marist scoring on a 14-pard pass from White to Juston Christian, and 51-yard heave to Mike Olivencia. Jacksonville scored on two rushing drives, a 55-yard burst by Riley and 14-yard keeper by Wells.
Jacksonville won the first half by racking up 339 yards of total offense and holding Marist to 1-5 on third downs.
Arce-Ramirez put the Dolphins on the board first with a 21-yard field goal to finish a six-play, 66-yard drive with 8:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Marist later took the lead on a one-yard plunge by Marcellus Calhoun. The drive spanned eight plays and 74 yards, and left just 22 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Three rushing trips to the pay dirt by Wells led to a 21-point outburst in the second quarter. The first came on a six-yard option keeper that finished a six-play, 75-yard march to answer the Red Foxes' score.
Later, a blocked punt set up a short field for Marist to regain the lead. Jonathan Boozer brought in a four-yard pass from White and gave Marist a 14-10 lead with 7:34 remaining in the half.
The Dolphins answered with another long march, going 73 yards in 10 plays. Another six-yard run by Wells gave the hosts the lead after chewing up 5:24 on the drive.
A three-and-out gave the Dolphins one more chance to score, and Wells led a 49 -second drive that went 74 yards. His two-yard run off the right side gave Jacksonville a 24-14 lead with 10 seconds left in the half.
The Dolphins went 7-14 on third downs, gained 33 first downs, and owned the football for 34:14.
Grady Redding led JU with eight tackles and concluded his career with 348, best all-time in Dolphin history. Ulysses Bryant ran for 68 yards and ended his Dolphin career second all-time with 3,061 rushing yards. As a team, Jacksonville set a new single-season record with 2,482 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground. Its 494 attemps were second-most.
"We had a lot of growth this year. I think we have a lot of optimism about the future and the direction of this program," said Shields.