The Dolphins (2-3, 1-1 PFL) saw a big lead evaporate in the second half for the second straight week, watching Davidson (2-1, 1-0 PFL) turn a 35-14 deficit into a 38-35 win on Homecoming with Ben Behrendt’s 23-yard field goal with 43 seconds left in the game.
Ryan Alexander led the comeback, throwing two touchdowns during the rally – starting with an 80-yard strike to Myles Potter. Alexander finished the game with 230 yards, completing 10-of-23 passing for three touchdowns – with 206 yards coming in the second half.
“This is a tough loss to take,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “When you get a team down like that, you have to finish the job and we didn’t do that today.”
Turnovers plagued the Dolphins again, fumbling it away three times on top of one interception. Davidson converted those miscues into 17 points, including the game-winning field goal.
Trailing by 21 with 4:29 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats rally started with Alexander’s long scoring pass to Potter.
On the ensuing JU possession, JU quarterback Josh McGregor was picked off near midfield by the Wildcats’ Brandon Giles and he returned it to the JU 16-yard line.
Davidson took advantage of the turnover, scoring five plays later on Kenny Mantuo’s 1-yard run with 36 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to seven, 35-28.
After a quick three-and-out for JU, the Wildcats marched 64 yards in five plays as Alexander connected on a 3-yard pass to Kirk Konert to tie the game with 12:03 left in regulation.
The Dolphins attempted to answer on the very next drive, but Josh Hostetler’s 34-yard field goal was wide to the left.
After a defensive stop and looking to drive for the winning score, Small fumbled the ball after a six-yard game with Davidson recovering at the JU 30-yard line with 3:31 left in the game.
The rally came to its conclusion as the Wildcats took their time in setting up Behrendt’s game-winning field goal, running off 2:43 of the game clock.
JU was able to move the ball to the Davidson 40 on a desperation drive, but McGregor’s hail mary attempt on the final play was swatted to the ground.
The Wildcats rally overshadowed a career day by running back Rudell Small. The sophomore rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries. The rushing total is the third highest output in school history and just the fifth time a player has rushed for more than 200 yards.
McGregor finished the game completing 15-of-29 for 187 yards with two touchdowns and the costly interception.
The game did not get off to a good start for JU as the opening kickoff bounced off a JU blocker’s helmet, with Davidson recovering the ball at the JU 26-yard line. The Wildcats took a 7-0 lead six plays later as Mantuo scored from a yard out less than three minutes into the game.
JU scored 21 unanswered to end the first half to take a 21-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. Small got the Dolphins on the board first with a 26-yard touchdown run, plowing through a defensive back en route to the end zone.
The Dolphins next score came from McGregor improvising. The freshman was on the run and about to be sacked and flipped the ball to tight end Chris Kuck who raced 16 yards untouched for the score to put JU on top.
On the final drive of the first half, Josh Philpart caught a 3-yard pass from McGregor to pad the Dolphins’ lead. Philpart led JU with four catches for 55 yards.
Davidson opened the second half by marching 70 yards on four plays, with Alexander hooking up with Justin Williams on a 38-yard scoring toss.
JU came right back with two Small rushing touchdowns to take a 35-14 lead. The first was a 9-yard run that was setup by a Robson Noel interception. The second came on a 7-yard run with 4:29 left in the third quarter.
The Dolphins get a much-needed open week in preparation for Homecoming on Oct. 9 against Webber International at the Bolles School.