Dolphins dominate for fifth straight win, 40-24
Rudell Small
Rudell Small
Despite the dreary gray skies and cold conditions, the JU football team turned in a picture-perfect performance in a record-setting 40-24 win at Valparaiso.

With the temperature only getting as high as 39, the Dolphins (7-3, 5-1 PFL) scored on four of their first five possessions to clinch their school-record setting fifth straight win.

Leading the win on offense was the trio of Josh McGregor, Rudell Small and Geavon Tribble – who either tied or broke a school record during the contest.

The defense also had another stellar effort, forcing two turnovers and holding the Crusaders (2-7, 1-5 PFL) to just 16 points in the contest, while racking up a touchdown of their own.

JU’s win also clinched just the second winning season in the history of the program and set the school record for most wins in a season.

“I told the team that in the locker room that they had made history, but they have a chance to make a lot more history this season,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “We didn’t play as well in the second half, but we did enough in the first half to take control.”

McGregor completed 9-of-14 passes for 133 yards with two touchdowns, breaking the school record for the most passing yards in a single season while extending his single-season touchdown record to 23.

The two touchdown passes were thrown to Tribble, who tied the school record for most career touchdown receptions in school history with his 14th. He finished the game with a team-high four receptions for 77 yards.

Meanwhile, Small led the JU ground attack with 16 carries for 135 yards – becoming the fourth Dolphin to record 1,000 yards rushing in a season. He also rushed for three touchdowns, giving him 10 for the season and 20 for his career – tying the school record for the most career rushing touchdowns.

“It’s a great honor, but I’ll think about it more after the season,” Small said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do this season.”

The Dolphins scored on the opening drive, when McGregor hooked up with Tribble on a 10-yard score less than four minutes into the game.

After a Valpo touchdown tied the game, Tribble and McGregor connected again – this time from 15 yards out midway through the first quarter.

After a Valpo field goal, Small took off on a 50-yard scoring run for his first touchdown – the longest run of his career.

Small took over from their, scoring twice more on a 5-yard run to make it 27-16 at the half. He also had JU’s first touchdown in the second half, capping a 9-play, 53-yard drive with a 3-yard run to make it 34-16.

The Dolphins defense sealed the game when Tremaine Mack picked off of a Matt Upshaw pass and returned six yards for a touchdown – his second INT touchdown this season and his third score of the season.

Jacksonville returns home for the final two games of the season, starting with Drake next week as the Dolphins look for their first win ever over the Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for Noon.