#23 Jacksonville survives Butler upset bid in the cold, 24-16
Play Video
Two fourth quarter touchdowns and some timely defensive turnovers gave No. 23 Jacksonville a 24-16 win over Butler for the Dolphins eighth straight win.

With temperature in the low 40s at kickoff, the Jacksonville (9-1, 7-0 PFL) offense warmed up in time with Josh McGregor hooking up with Josh Philpart on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 11:36 left in the game to give JU its first lead of the contest.

From there, the JU defense took over. The Dolphins forced three turnovers on Butler’s first three possessions of the fourth quarter to seal the win.

“There were a lot of times when our guys could have folded, but they kept fighting,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “You’ve got to give credit to Butler. They did a lot of good things in the first half that took us out of our game.

“But there is an old saying that winning a championship is never easy. Our defense really stepped up with some big plays when we needed them.”

Having put up 242 points in its last four games, the Dolphins had to work on offense in the cold. Jacksonville had just 341 yards of total offense, its second lowest output this season.

The defense, which was gashed by big plays early, rebounded late in the game with the turnovers and not allowing big plays as Butler had to run 87 plays to pick up 383 yards.

Trailing by three at the half, JU tied the game for the first time when Josh Hostetler kicked home a career-long 40-yard goal to even the score at 10.

A 32-yard field goal by David Lang gave Butler a 13-10 lead just 47 seconds into the fourth quarter, setting up the Dolphins scoring drive that gave them the lead.

Jacksonville extended the lead when Rudell Small scored from two yards out to put the Dolphins ahead 24-13 with 6:29 left in the game, cashing in on Jordan Dewhirst’s fourth interception of the season.

After driving to the JU 13-yard line, Andrew Huck was picked off in the endzone by Colby Walden – his second interception in as many drives to give the Dolphins the ball back with 3:16.

Jacksonville couldn’t pick up a first down and Butler kicked a 33-yard field goal with 13 seconds left to cut the deficit to 24-16. The Dolphins recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure the win.

McGregor finished the game 23-of-35 for 263 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Small rushed for 54 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries, but had a team-best eight receptions for 88 yards. Philpart finished with four catches for 69 yards while Chris Kuck had the only touchdown in the first half on a 5-yard catch.

Jacksonville held the ball for just 9:07 in the first half, watching Butler rip off 47 plays for 211 yards to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Huck, who lit the Dolphins up in the first half, finish 28-of-49 for 248 yards with two picks and one touchdown.

Jacksonville returns home for Senior Day where they will honor the 19 seniors that make up the winningest class in program history as they look to win their second PFL title in three years against Campbell. Kickoff is set for Noon.