SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2008
UPSET: JU SHOCKS SAN DIEGO, 30-29
Donovan Curry’s 50-yard field goal capped a 10-point rally in the final five minutes as the JU football team upset three-time defending Pioneer Football League champion San Diego, 30-29, on Saturday at D.B. Milne Field.
After winning the kicking job during competition this week, Curry was perfect on his three field goal attempts – including the game-winner with 1:23 left in the game, sending the JU sidelines into celebration.
Faced with a 4th-and-7 at the San Diego 34-yard line and little time on the clock, JU head coach Kerwin Bell was debating to go for it before Curry came up to him.
“I was debating about kicking it and I asked Donovan if he could kick it that far,” Bell said. “He said he could and he had a look in his eyes that you knew he was going to do it.”
As his kick sailed through the uprights, the JU sideline went into hysteria as the Dolphins (5-3, 3-1 PFL) had pulled off the biggest win in the 11-year history of the program.
“Everyone on the team contributed to this win today,” Bell said. “We’ve been talking about playing for a championship since I got here and today we showed that we are closer to winning that championship.”
The game-winning kick capped a hectic rally by the Dolphins who had seen a 17-3 halftime lead slip away as the Toreros took a 29-20 lead on 4-yard pass from Seb Trujillo pass to Godfrey Smith with 6:33 left in the game.
With starting quarterback Josh McGregor on the sidelines after an injury suffered late in the third quarter, sophomore Erik Stepelton came on in relief and led the Dolphins back down the field – connecting with Rudell Small on a 22-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 29-27 with 4:07 left in the game.
After a quick three-and-out by the JU defense, Elliott Finkley’s 20-yard punt return gave the Dolphins great field position for their final drive.
“Our defense made some big plays in forcing them to punt it to us and give us good field position,” Bell said. “Elliott made another great return, which allowed us to be a little bit more at ease when the offense went onto the field.”
Following Curry’s field goal, San Diego (6-1, 4-1 PFL) had time for one last drive in hopes of a game-winning field goal attempt.
After gaining 17 yards and a first down, the JU defense stood strong and forced three straight incomplete passes – including a huge breakup on a deep pass by Brian Valdez.
Faced with 4th-and-10 at their 40 yard line, the Toreros called for one final pass but it was snuffed out quickly as Rolando Fines sacked Trujillo to end the game and officially starting the celebration.
The hectic fourth quarter came after a dominant first half performance by JU that created a 17-3 lead. San Diego came roaring out of the locker room to score 20 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 23-17 lead into the fourth quarter.
Trujillo hooked up with John Matthews twice during the third quarter for touchdowns, the first from nine yards out and the second one from 51. Ben Hannula’s 15 yard touchdown catch from Trujillo with 3:15 left in the third quarter gave San Diego its first lead of the day, 23-17.
Amid the run, JU defensive lineman Teddy Tomlin blocked John McSorley’s extra point attempt – which turned out to be a huge play in the end.
For the fourth straight game, JU put up more than 400 yards of total offense – getting 408 against the Toreros vaunted defense, with 170 of that total coming on the ground.
Defensively, JU stymied the Toreros offensive attack – holding them to 94 yards on the ground and a total of 372, with 245 of that coming in the second half.
Rudell Small led the Dolphins with 104 yards on 17 carries, along with his one reception for a touchdown.
Finkley led the nine JU receivers who made a catch with five receptions for 82 yards.
McGregor was solid in the start before the injury, completing 11-of-22 for 148 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Stepelton was 8-of-15 for 90 yards and one touchdown in the final two quarters.
Trujillo finished the game with 278 yards passing, completing 23-of-43. Matthews torched the Dolphins for 144 yards and two touchdowns receiving on nine catches.
With two straight PFL wins under their belts, the Dolphins face another undefeated PFL team on Saturday as they travel to Butler for another championship showdown. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.