Dolphins fall to late ODU rally, 28-27
Thomas DeMarco’s 32 yard touchdown pass to Dorian Jackson with 45 seconds left completed a furious fourth quarter comeback to finish the upset for Old Dominion 28-27 over Jacksonville at D.B. Milne Field.

Jacksonville (1-2) saw its hopes to pull out the win after watching a 27-14 lead slip away in the final 10 minutes sail wide to the right on Donovan Curry’s 52-yard field goal try as time expired.

Ultimately, the Dolphins worst enemy was themselves. JU turned the ball over four times and committed nine penalties for 123 yards that resulted in four Old Dominion (3-0) first downs.

“We made too many mistakes and you can’t do that against a team like this,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “When you turn the ball over four times, things like this are going to happen.”

The Dolphins had taken a 27-14 lead with 13:01 left in the game on Erik Stepelton’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Larry Thompson.

The Monarchs didn’t go quietly. After struggling against the JU defense for most of the game, Old Dominion piled up 196 yards against a banged up defense in the fourth quarter – starting the rally with a 47 yard run by DeMarco.

The run was later capped by the game-winning pass by DeMarco, who threw for 175 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 136 yards and one touchdown.

The Dolphins seemed to be in great shape after taking a 20-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. JU opened the scoring with Josh McGregor hooking up with Elliott Finkley on an 11-yard touchdown score.

McGregor connected with Rodney Sumter on a 12-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 13-0 and finished the half with a 21-yard toss to Sam Bell to push the lead to 13.

The difference in the game turned out to be a blocked extra point, as Curry’s point after attempt on that first score was swatted away by Edmon McClam.

The Monarchs got the only score of the third quarter as Mario Crawford plunged in from two yards out to cut the deficit to 20-14.

McGregor threw for 300 yards, completing 22-of-42 with three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. Erik Stepelton came off the bench at the start of the fourth quarter when McGregor went down with cramps, completing 2-of-4 for 21 yards and a touchdown.

Rudell Small rushed for 95 yards on 24 carries to lead the ground attack while Josh Philpart led all receivers with nine catches for 109 yards.

Joseph Fennell led the defense with 12 tackles as the Dolphins had a season-low one quarterback sack courtesy of Haywood Range.

The Dolphins are off next week before facing Davidson at home to officially open their PFL title defense.

“We’re going to use the open week to get some guys healthy and get ready for conference play,” Bell said. “We were in similar position last year. We just need to come together as a team if we’re going to win another championship.”