Football faces tall task at No. 3 Appalachian State
Last week, the JU football team played in front of almost 20,000 people and took home a 35-25 win over Old Dominion.

Add more 10,000 people and the No. 3 ranked team in the country and you have JU’s next game – as the Dolphins face perennial national power Appalachian State.

It will mark the sixth time in program history that JU has played a team ranked in the top 25, having dropped all five of the previous meetings – the last being a 56-7 loss at No. 1 Appalachian State in 2008.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to go back to Appalachian State and face one of the best programs in the country,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “Every year Coach (Jerry) Moore puts together a great team and this year is no different. We face a tall task, but it is also a great opportunity for our program to play in another great atmosphere.”

Jacksonville (1-0) enters the game having won its last four games, tying for the second-longest winning streak in program history and the sixth-longest active streak in the country.

One of the keys for the Dolphins 35-25 win at Old Dominion was the big plays made by the defense.

ODU pushed the ball into the red zone six times and only came away with points on three of those possessions. The Dolphins got a big stop on fourth-and-1 at the JU 12-yard line to change momentum in the second quarter. The Monarchs drove to the JU 15-yard line in the third quarter and missed a field goal as well.

The biggest play of all came in the fourth quarter on ODU’s final drive. Trailing by three, the Monarchs drove to the JU 11-yard line before Jordan Dewhirst picked off Thomas DeMarco’s pass in the end zone, ending the last threat by ODU.

“Our defense stepped up and made a lot of big plays throughout the night,” Bell said. “Anytime you force a turnover, it creates momentum and we had a lot of those.”

The offense was just sliced bread either.

Jacksonville posted its best offensive output since the 2009 season opener, tallying 493 yards, with 311 of that coming in the air. On top of that, Rudell Small opened his senior season with a stellar outing, piling up 118 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.

Josh Philpart was one of McGregor’s favorite targets, catching six passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

“We got a great performance from our offense,” Bell said. “We got off to a slow start, but we really got rolling in the second half and took advantage of some matchups.”