SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2003
Football Loses Heartbreaker To No. 4 Morehead State, 20-16
Oct. 25, 2003
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Senior running back Emmett Hunter (Largo, Fla.) rushed for 146 yards to set a JU single-season record with 1,158 yards, but the Dolphins failed to convert on two fourth-down plays in the final quarter as No. 4 Morehead State hung on for a 20-16 win on Homecoming at D.B. Milne Field. With the win, the Eagles (6-2, 3-0 PFL), who have won eight straight league games, clinch their second consecutive Pioneer Football League South Division Championship and advance to the PFL Championship game on Nov. 22. JU, which would have claimed its second PFL South title in three years with a win, falls to 4-4 overall, 1-2 in league play.
Hunter recorded his school-record fifth consecutive 100-yard performance and became just the second Dolphin to eclipse 2,000 career yards. With three games remaining in the season, he is 50 yards shy of Brent Alexander's career rushing record of 2,090 yards. Senior wideout Travis Lewis (Crescent City, Fla.) had one catch for 27 yards to become just the fourth Dolphin to surpass 1,000 receiving yards for his career.
Redshirt-sophomore linebacker Brandon Torre (Tallahassee, Fla.) had a career-best 11 tackles, including four behind the line of scrimmage, to lead the Dolphin defense. JU also forced four turnovers, including a season-best three interceptions.
A 32-yard field goal by Jason Bense (Panama City, Fla.) with 4:27 to play in the third cut the Morehead State lead to 13-9. The Eagles responded with an 11-play drive into JU territory, but linebacker Tim Hasse (Bradenton, Fla.) came up with a big interception at the Dolphin 8-yard line to halt the drive. JU then put together a 16-play, 92-yard drive and took a 16-13 lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Hunter with 11:35 to play in the game.
The Dolphins again picked off Morehead State quarterback David Caudill just six plays later at the Eagle 36-yard line. Following a delay of game penalty, JU managed just 12 yards on the next three plays and faced 4th-and-3 from the 29. Sturgill's fourth-down pass sailed just out of reach of tight end Jimmy Willman's (Ocala, Fla.) hands and the Eagles took over on downs. Morehead State responded with a 9-play, 71-yard drive and took the lead for good with 4:27 to play when Tyler Slone scored on a 3-yard run.
Chad Davis (Tallahassee, Fla.) returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the Eagle 48-yard line to set up the Dolphins' final drive. Sturgill hit Charles Harper (Compton, Calif.) for nine yards and then kept it himself for three yards and a JU first down. On 3rd-and-3 from the Morehead State 29-yard line, Sturgill lost a yard on a quarterback keeper setting up 4th-and-4. Sturgill again scrambled on the play action, but came up two yards short at the Morehead State 18-yard line.
JU fumbled on its first drive of the game, but after the Dolphins forced a fumble to get the ball back, they took a 6-0 lead on a 9-yard pass from Sturgill to Eldin Ferguson (Riviera Beach, Fla.). Morehead State answered with a 9-play, 85-yard drive and tied the game at 6-6 when Drew Driskell scored on a 2-yard run. Following a fumble by Hunter, the Eagles extended the lead to 13-6 when Caudill connected with Slone on a 30-yard touchdown strike with 14:04 to play in the half. Caudill finished the day 9-of-21 for 161 yards, while also rushing for 36 yards.
The Dolphins will have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game at Florida International at 7 p.m.