Late heroics lead football to 28-21 win over No. 8 Dayton

Oct. 14, 2006

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Senior running back Jerry Brant rushed for a career- high 224 yards on 35 carries and a touchdown and the Dolphin defense scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to lead the JU football team to a 28-21 Homecoming win over No. 8 Dayton, Saturday afternoon in front of 3,127 fans at D.B. Milne Field.

JU (3-3, 3-1) rushed for 302 yards as Brant surpassed Jon Underhill for third place in the all time record book with 1,911 career yards. Brant did not get enough for the single-game record, however, as Underhill still holds the mark with 225 yards on Oct. 17, 1998. Brant needs 73 yards to pass Brent Alexander for second place and 439 yards to surpass Emmett Hunter (2,349) for the top spot on the all- time list with four games remaining.

Dayton (3-3, 0-3) passed for 411 yards through the air but dropped its first contest to the Dolphins in three meetings.

"This is a huge win for our program," said JU head coach Steve Gilbert. "You have to play at a high level to beat a team like Dayton and we made some huge plays at the end of the game to take back the momentum. To get this win in front of a large crowd for Homecoming makes it even that much sweeter."

With the score tied, 21-21, and Dayton pinned deep in its own territory, junior linebacker Quintan Salery sacked UD quarterback Rob Florian from his blind side and jarred the ball loose. Junior defensive end Mirco Zanella scooped up the ball at the seven-yard line and fell into the endzone with an entourage around him to the put the Dolphins ahead for good with 3:09 remaining in the game.

Dayton attempted to tie the contest after a pass interference call put the ball at the JU 32-yard line with less than 10 seconds remaining. On his final attempt, Florian was intercepted by freshman safety Jason Wood to end the game.

Junior Nate Conner led the Dolphin receivers with four catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. Junior quarterback Chris Horton completed 11-of-24 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions while also rushing for 54 yards on nine attempts. Freshman Donovan Curry averaged 38 yards on six punts, including a career-high 61-yarder, while also placing four inside the 20-yard line. Defensively, sophomore corner Robson Noel tallied a career-high 10 tackles with six passes defended and an interception. Junior defensive end Sean Heverin and Wood also recorded a sack while freshman linebacker Allen Fennell recorded an interception.

Florian posted the second-highest passing total in Dayton history (411 yards) after completing 20-of-47 passes with a touchdown and three interceptions in his first collegiate appearance. Charles McFadden led all receivers with seven catches for 136 yards and Nick Ruhe added six catches for 159 yards. Defensively, Brian Kelly finished with a game-high 13 tackles and a pass break up.

JU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead at the 10:19 mark of the first quarter when Brant scored on the right side from 11 yards out. The score would remain the same as both teams entered the locker rooms for halftime.

The Dolphins took a 14-0 advantage with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter when Horton connected with junior tight end Charles Lusk for a two-yard touchdown. For Lusk, it was the first touchdown of his collegiate career.

Dayton cut the lead to 14-7 with 3:27 left in the third quarter when Ben Shappie scored from four yards out. The score increased the Flyers' active NCAA record for consecutive games without being shutout to 336 games.

JU pushed the advantage to 21-7 with 2:03 left in the third when Horton hooked up with Conner for a 47-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline. The drive was set up by a game-high 31-yard scamper by Brant on first down.

The Flyers cut the deficit to 21-14 with 27 seconds remaining in the third after Florian connected with tight end Matt Champa for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Dayton tied the contest, 21-21, with 10:43 in the fourth quarter when Shappie scored on a two- yard run.

The Dolphins will continue Pioneer Football League play next weekend as JU travels to Morehead State on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m.