SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 06, 2003
Dolphins Fall In Season Opener To Lenoir-Rhyne, 24-0
Sept. 6, 2003
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After suffering its first shutout in six years, Lenoir-Rhyne turrned the tables on Jacksonville handing the Dolphins just the second shutout in the short history of the six-year program with a 24-0 victory in front of 4,946 fans at Moretz Stadium. It was the first shutout in 24 games for JU dating back to a 42-0 loss at Drake during the 2000 season as the Dolphins fell to 2-3 all-time against the Bears. LRC improved to 1-1 after a 58-0 season-opening loss to East Stroudsburg.
Scott Branton threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns to lead Lenoir-Rhyne, which racked up 402 yards of total offense. The Bears also ran for 177 yards and a score, while limiting JU to just 60 yards rushing on 35 carries.
Sophomore quarterback Mike Sturgill completed 14-of-35 passes for 160 yards for the Dolphins, but JU converted on just 4-of-18 third-down conversions and hampered themselves with nine penalties for 64 yards. Senior running back Emmett Hunter led the Dolphins with 46 yards on 19 carries, but ran for just six yards on five carries in the second half.
Lenoir-Rhyne jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead after marching 76 yards on eight plays on their first possession to set up a 21-yard field goal from John Raptis. Two possessions later, the Bears took advantage of good field position as Branton his Jason Bingham on a 27-yard touchdown strike in between three Dolphin defenders for a 10-0 advantage with 4:12 to play in the first quarter.
Trailing 10-0 in the second, JU put together its best drive of the game going 54 yards on 14 plays down to the Lenoir-Rhyne 4-yard line. On 4th-and-2, Sturgill fooled the defense on an option play with Hunter and appeared to headed for the first down, but slipped on the chewed-up turf to end what turned out to be the Dolphins' best threat of the game.
The Bears added another touchdown in the third after blocking JU's 35-yard field goal attempt. Branton hit Aaron Caldwell for a 78-yard bomb two plays later to give LRC a 17-0 lead. Lenoir-Rhyne tacked on the final score on a tired, undermanned Dolphin defense at the 10:19 mark of the fourth when running back Patrick Henson scampered 16 yards for the score to cap a four-play, 75-yard drive.
Junior linebacker Tim Hasse paced the Dolphin defense with a career-best nine tackles. JU played without starting linebacker Brandon Torre, who missed the game with an injured knee. JU freshman punter Ryan Long booted 10 punts for a 40.5 average in his first collegiate game, just one punt shy of the school record. Andrew Tudor paced a balanced rushing attack for Lenoir-Rhyne, carrying the ball nine times for 48 yards. The Bears gained 177 yards on the ground.