WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2008
GRIDIRON CLASSIC COUNTDOWN: 3 Days
At the end of September, the JU football team was mired in a two-game losing streak after seeing big leads evaporate in the final quarter.

Since that time, the Dolphins have won seven straight – culminating with JU’s 19-14 win over Dayton in front of more than 5,000 fans for the school’s first Pioneer Football League championship.

Over that seven-game stretch, the Dolphins have seen some outstanding individual performances, made some great escapes and a couple of epic comebacks.

“We’ve come a long way this season, especially after how we started,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “This team really came together in camp as a family and they have stuck together like a family when they faced some adversity.”

After a bye week in which JU went to work on getting more consistency from their offense and defense, the Dolphins responded with a rout of Webber International on Homecoming.

The very next week, JU made an “air raid” on Morehead State – flying up-and-back on the same and coming away with a 40-9 victory that set the tone for the rest of the season.

“That trip was very business-like for our guys and they showed that with their focus and play that day,” Bell said. “Looking back, that was the trip that these guys really started to believe they could be a championship-caliber team.”

A week later, JU shocked the PFL world with a stunning 30-29 win over San Diego – capped by Donovan Curry’s 50-yard field goal with just over minute left in the game.

After that game, the Dolphins just left scorched earth behind them as they put up 40 points in each of the next three games to cruise to wins over Butler, Valparaiso and Drake – setting up the title game showdown with Dayton.

Now, with a week of rest and recuperation, the JU football team is going through its final week of practice in anticipation of the 2008 Gridiron Classic against UAlbany on Saturday.

Both the Dolphins (9-3) and the Great Danes (8-3) enter the game with a seven-game winning streak after claiming their respective conference championship.

“Albany is really good football team, that is well coached and doesn’t make mistakes,” Bell said. “They are battle-tested team that is playing at home, which is tough. Our guys are preparing well and know that this isn’t just a trip to go have fun – we’re going up there focused with the goal of winning the game.”

Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m., with the game being broadcast on TV via the YES Network as well as the Internet through PACKNetwork.com. Fans can also listen to the JU Sports Network broadcast, with the Bono’s Barbecue pregame show airing at 1 p.m.