Football Looks To Bounce Back At Davidson On Saturday

Sept. 6, 2000


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The Dolphins will look to rebound after a season-opening loss to Lenoir-Rhyne with a road game at Davidson on Saturday in Davidson, N.C. After a tough first half against LR, the JU defense settled down in the second half limiting the high-powered Bear attack to just 44 yards rushing and 125 yards of total offense. The Dolphins shut out Lenoir-Rhyne - which had scored 78 points in its first six quarters - in the second half. Junior Brett Palmi made history when he became the first player in JU history to return a punt for a touchdown with his 64-yard jaunt in the second quarter. JU has won both meetings with Davidson, which has quickly become the Dolphins' biggest rival, including a 20-15 victory last year In North Carolina. In both 1998 and 1999, the Wildcats were 0-2 after playing the Dolphins, but went on to win seven straight games to end the season and finished with 8-2 and 8-3 records, respectively. Saturday's game marks the head coaching debut of Davidson head coach Joe Susan.

All-Time vs. Davidson: JU is 2-0 all-time against Davidson, including a 20-15 win in the inaugural game at Richardson Stadium last year. The Dolphins and Wildcats also met in the JU's inaugural game on Sept. 12, 1998, as JU won its first-ever game, 19-14, in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 4,890 at Milne Field. The Dolphins have handed Davidson two of its five losses in the last two seasons. After losing to JU last year, Davidson won eight of its last nine games to finish 8-3, including seven straight wins to end the season. The Dolphins also jump-started the Wildcats in 1998, as Davidson won seven straight to finish the season 8-2.

       Sept. 12, 1998   W, 19-14    at Jacksonville, Fla.
       Sept. 11, 1999   W, 20-15    at Davidson, N.C.

Head Coach Steve Gilbert: Head coach Steve Gilbert is in his third season at Jacksonville, his fourth year overall. Gilbert was hired in February of 1997 and has literally built the program from the ground up. He has posted a 7-12 (.368) mark at JU, including a surprising 4-5 mark in the inaugural season. Gilbert, who was named the 1996 NCAA Division III Coach of the Year after leading Ursinus College to its first-ever NCAA playoff berth and 9-2 record, has a career record of 48-60 (.444) in 11-plus seasons as a collegiate head coach.

Special Effort: The Dolphins' special teams had a big game in the season opener against Lenoir-Rhyne, highlighted by Brett Palmi's 64-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first such play in school history. Junior Russell Cheatham had the fifth-longest kickoff return in school history with his 36-yard gallop in the second quarter, and finished the day with 77 total return yards. Sophomore Linj Shell also returned one kick for 25 yards as the Dolphins averaged 25.5 yards on four kickoff returns. All totalled, JU averaged 33.2 yards on five returns. Sophomore punter/kicker Brett Keener also had a solid game, averaging 40.0 yards on two punts and converting both of his extra-point attempts in his first game as the Dolphins' starting place kicker.

Lock Down: After allowing 24 points and 182 yards of total offense to Lenoir-Rhyne in the first half of the season opener, the Dolphins' defense locked down the high-powered Bear attack in the second half. JU limited Lenoir-Rhyne - which has scored 78 points in two games this season - to just 44 yards rushing and 125 yards of total offense while holding the Bears scoreless in the final two quarters. Junior linebacker Tommy Swindell led the way with 10 tackles, including three for a loss.