JU set for Homecoming matchup against Marist
With four games remaining in its season and at least a share of the Pioneer Football League title in sight, the JU football team is focused on this week’s game as they host Marist on Saturday.

Kickoff is set for Noon at D.B. Milne Field for the Homecoming game. The Bono’s Barbecue Pregame Show will start the broadcast coverage on1010XL at 11:30 a.m., with Barry Milligan and Paul Spicer calling the action.

Jacksonville (6-1, 4-0 PFL) has clinched its third straight winning season after the best start in program history.

“We’ve had a good week of preparation this week,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “The guys know how important each game is now as we head down the stretch.”

JU has won its last five games, which is the second-longest winning streak in program history and has the Dolphins tied atop the PFL standings with Dayton.

One of the major reasons for JU’s surge this season has been the play of a young defense.

With the loss of Layne McCombs against Drake for the season, JU has five underclassmen in the starting lineup – with three in a defensive backfield that has proven its ability to make big plays throughout this campaign.

As a team, JU has racked up 13 interceptions and recovered nine fumbles to rank second nationally in turnover ratio. Aiding that is four players with two interceptions – Leonard Smith, Joseph Fennell, Jordan Dewhirst and Andre Addison. Smith and Dewhirst have become solid anchors to the defense’s backline at safety. Smith leads the team in tackles with 44 while Dewhirst is fourth with 35. Both are thriving in their new roles that they made a switch to during the spring.

“Our defense has made a lot of big plays for us all season,” Bell said. “Our two safeties in Leonard and Jordan have stepped up and made a lot of things happen – especially against the pass. When you can create momentum plays, especially from interceptions, it can completely turn the tide of a game.”

The game is a rematch of last year’s battle in Poughkeepsie, where JU saw the Red Foxes rally in the fourth quarter with the “Heave on the Hudson” – a fourth down Hail Mary into the end zone that gave Marist a 31-27 win.

“Our guys remember what happened last year and know how good Marist is,” Bell said. “They know this is going to be a tough contest and that we better come out ready to play.”