SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2007
Record setting day leads JU past Morehead State, 34-24
Oct. 13, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JU quarterback Chris Horton did not have the ideal start to his senior season.
But the Dolphins' signal caller overcame three interceptions to turn in a record setting performance in leading JU (2-4, 1-2 PFL) to a 34-24 Homecoming win over Morehead State (5-2, 2-1 PFL) in front of a crowd of 2,367 at D.B. Milne Field.
Horton completed 27-of-50 passes for a school-record 450 yards, surpassing the previous high of 349 set by Mike Sturgill in 2003. Horton threw for four touchdowns, tying the school record, with his 27 completions ranking third on the school's all-time list.
Half of Horton's passing yardage was to Geavon Tribble, who caught five passes for a school-record 229 yards and two touchdowns, including the longest play in JU history - a 90-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
"We wanted to give Chris a chance to make some plays and he did that today," said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. "We had a good week of preparation and we played like we practiced this week. They made a run at us, but we were able to make the plays when we needed them and that is what I'm proud of."
Leading 24-7 entering the fourth quarter, Morehead State scored 17 unanswered points in the first eight minutes to tie the game. MSU's Brian Yost hit Nick Feldman on a 33-yard touchdown pass to start the rally with 14:53 left in the game.
On JU's ensuing possession, David Hyland picked off his school record tying third pass and took it the house, scoring from 37 yards out to cut the deficit to three, 24-21.
The Eagles tied the game on Mason Webb's 27-yard field goal with 7:11 left in the fourth.
"We knew Morehead was going to make a run," Bell said. "They are too good of a team not to. We had preached all week that if you prepare the right way, you don't have to look at the scoreboard, you just know you're going to make plays."
With the game tied at 24, the Dolphins marched on a eight-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a Michael Zacco's second field goal of the day, this one from 26 yards, to put JU ahead 27-24.
Clinging to that lead with just over two minutes left in the game and facing a 2nd-and-10 at the JU 10-yard line, Horton rolled to his right and hit Tribble in stride at the MSU 40 and he did the rest to put the game on ice with the longest pass in school history.
That capped a day when Horton and Tribble hooked up on three big plays. Tribble caught an 80-yard pass in the second quarter to put the Dolphins on top, 17-7, and had a 43-yarder in the fourth quarter that setup a Zacco's second field goal.
"We wanted to put our wide receivers on an island and hopefully get some man-to-man coverage," Bell said. "Chris did a good job of finding the open man and delivering the ball on time today. The receivers did a great job of adjusting to the ball and making plays as well."
The Dolphins opened the game by taking a 3-0 lead on the opening drive with Zacco booting home a 24-yard field goal as JU ate 7:33 off the clock.
Morehead State took the lead for the first time when Brian Yost hooked up with J. Pendelton on a 6-yard scoring pass to go on top 7-3, converting a JU turnover into points.
Horton and Tribble came back and hooked up for an 80-yard touchdown to put JU ahead 10-7 midway through the second quarter.
The Dolphins QB put JU on top 17-7 at the half when he connected with Cameron Abdallah on a 37-yard score with just 41 seconds remaining.
After failing to protect a 10-0 halftime lead two weeks ago against Davidson, the Dolphins came out determined in the third quarter and extended the lead to 17 with Horton hitting Nate Conner on a 38-yard touchdown pass with just 5:11 left in the third.
The scoring reception capped a big day for Conner, who caught six passes for 100 yards, giving JU two receivers with more than 100 yards in a game for the first time Conner and Tribble accomplished the same feat at Morehead last season.
On the day, JU's offense rolled up 530 yards, the third highest total in school history.
The Dolphins' defense held up its end of the bargain as well, forcing two interceptions - both by James Mills, giving him four on the season - just one behind the school record. Robson Noel led the defense with 10 tackles, the third time he's record 10 or more tackles this season.
With renewed confidence, the Dolphins hit the road to face PFL favorite San Diego next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. (EST)