JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville University football (2-6, 1-5 PFL) faced Butler (3-6, 1-5 PFL) Saturday afternoon, defeating the Bulldogs 48-44 in an offensive affair that saw a combined 13 touchdowns. It was Calvin Turner Jr.'s three-yard touchdown rush with just five seconds remaining that lifted Jacksonville to its first PFL win of the season.
Jacksonville coasted to an early 14-0 lead thanks to a 40-yard touchdown rush by Irvin Riley and a 52-yarder by Garnett Nicolas. Then Butler came back with a pair of scores and a missed extra point, leaving the score at 14-13 after one. Again the teams mirrored one another in the second quarter, adding a pair of touchdowns each. This time it was Turner Jr. with the long run, weaving his way through the Butler defense for 58 yards.
Turner Jr. struck again with under three minutes remaining in the half, this time with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Prince Gray. Gray was able to find a soft spot in the Bulldogs' coverage and outraced defenders all the way to the end zone. It was Turner Jr.'s first passing touchdown of his career. Butler was the last to find the end zone in the first half, scoring with 19 seconds remaining to make the score 28-27.
The third quarter was the quietest offensively for both teams. Jacksonville made the first move, scoring on an 11-yard rush by Riley. This time, the Dolphins defense was able to hold Butler to a 26-yard field goal, and the teams entered the fourth quarter with just a five-point differential.
In the fourth, the two squads ramped their scoring up again. It started with Butler hitting a 52-yard pass to take their first lead of the ball game. The Bulldogs tried a two-point conversion after the score, but failed. The Dolphins came back with a 52-yard touchdown run by Riley, his third time finding the end zone in this one. Butler took the lead once more with just over three minutes remaining, this time converting the two-point try to make it a 44-41 game.
The stage was set for a game-winning drive, and the Dolphins seized the moment. They slowly matriculated the ball down the field, milking all but 13 seconds. With 0 timeouts remaining and Jacksonville set up three yards from the end zone, Head Coach Ian Shields decided to leave his offense out there rather than take the easy field goal and tie. The decision paid off as Turner Jr. rolled out to his right, looking for an open receiver, then pulled the ball down and carried it in with just five seconds remaining on the clock.
After today's performance, Turner Jr. has 18 total touchdowns this season. The sophomore gained 194 yards on the ground in the win, eclipsing the century mark for the seventh time this season. With Nicolas and Riley running for 117 and 114, respectively, the Dolphins ended up with three 100-yard rushers for the first time in program history. Dakota Trice led all Jacksonville defenders with 10.5 tackles, including .5 for a loss.
"You win a big game like that and there's a ton of positives. To close out a game on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, you can't say enough about the kids' resolve. Especially after the weeks we've had leading up to this game. It speaks to their character and their fortitude," said Shields.
Next, Jacksonville hits the road again to take on the Valparaiso Crusaders (1-8, 1-5 PFL) in Valparaiso, Ind. That game will be played at Noon EST., and will be broadcast on ESPN+.