MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2011
Drought in Iowa; JU prepares for Drake
Following a three-game home stand and a bye week, Jacksonville University will take its 16-game Pioneer Football League win streak to one of its nemesis sites.
The Dolphins (6-2, 5-0) travel to Des Moines, Ia., Saturday at 2 p.m. to face Drake in a pivotal PFL game. Both teams are involved in a three-way championship battle with San Diego.
JU is 5-0 in conference while Drake is 5-1 and San Diego 4-1.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest games since we’ve been here,’’ defensive leader senior Rolando Fines said. “Drake is one of the most physical teams we play and they play hard and well together.’’
JU hasn’t fared well traveling to Drake. In fact, the Dolphins, who trail in this series 8-2, have never won at Drake Stadium and the Bulldogs currently have and eight-game home win streak – third in the nation behind JU’s 13 games and South Alabama’s 11.
“It’s an opportunity to make amends for a lot of things,’’ JU coach Kerwin Bell said.
Fines remembers too well the last trip in 2009 when Drake scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 45-38.
“The way we lost, it definitely hurts,’’ he said. “It was a crushing way to leave Iowa and take the trip back home.’’
Drake is coming of a 23-13 win Saturday at Marist in a heavy snowstorm in a game in which the Bulldogs had built a 17-0 lead.
The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Mike Piatowski who has thrown for 2,455 yards this season and is completing passes at a 66.1 percent rate. He has 19 touchdown passes and an efficiency rating of 154.5. His leading receiver, Nathan Paddock, has 41 catches for 631 yards and six touchdowns.
JU enters the game ranked 16th nationally and first in the PFL against the pass and has intercepted five passes the last two games.
Offensively, the Dolphins will rely on senior quarterback Josh McGregor who has thrown nine touchdown passes in his last two games. He has 109 for his career which is tied for seventh on the all time FCS list.
McGregor has thrown for 2,159 yards this season and has 22 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. With two more TD tosses, McGregor will tie himself for third on the school’s touchdown pass list with 24. He also is first and second with 32 in 2010 and 31 in 2009.
The game can be heard on WJXL-AM 1010 and on 1010XL.com with Terry Norvelle doing play-by-play and Joel Lamp color analysis.
The Bono’s Barbeque Pregame Show will begin at 1:30 p.m.