SATURDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2004
Football Rallies For Wild 29-26 Win At Davidson In PFL Opener
Oct. 9, 2004
DAVIDSON, N.C. - Jacksonville quarterback Mike Sturgill (Vero Beach, Fla.) capped a record-setting day by hitting junior wideout Eldin Ferguson (Riviera Beach, Fla.) with a 15-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds to play to propel the Dolphins to their first victory of the season, a 29-26 triumph over Davidson, and a 1-0 start in the Pioneer Football League South Division play Saturday afternoon at Richardson Stadium. Jerry Brant (Jacksonville/Raines) ran for a career-best 135 yards and a touchdown as JU (1-4, 1-0 PFL South) ran a school-record 91 plays in a wild back-and-forth contest. Sturgill also became the Dolphins' career leader with his 33rd career touchdown pass, while surpassing Gary Cooper for first all-time with 4,601 passing yards in just 26 games.
Senior running back John Leverett nearly carried Davidson (1-4, 0-1 PFL South) to victory with 259 yards and three scores on 30 carries. JU now leads the all-time series with the Wildcats, 4-3, after breaking a two-game losing streak.
The Dolphin defense also made two big plays down the stretch to thwart the Wildcat effort. Senior strong safety Omar Platt (Tallahassee, Fla.) stripped Leverett at the three-yard line with 5:34 to play. Junior free safety Drew Stafford (Rockville, Md.) helped seal the win when he picked off Damion White with just 16 seconds remaining in the game. Stafford finished with 10 tackles to lead JU. Platt also intercepted White in the first quarter and returned it 41 yards to tie the game at 7-7.
The Dolphins started the game-winning drive at their own 29-yard line and went 71 yards on 12 plays. JU converted on a 4th-and-1 from its own 38 when Sturgill sprinted for a 7-yard gain. Sturgill also made a big play in the air when he scrambled out of trouble to hit Michael Jenner (Miami, Fla.) for a 15-yard gain on 2nd-and-10 from the Davidson 42 with less than a minute to play. Following an end-around to Julio Santiago (Jacksonville/Bolles) for five yards and a seven-yard run by Brant, Sturgill found Ferguson on a timing pattern in the corner of the end zone.
John Leverett's 59-yard touchdown run with 2:56 to play gave Davidson a 26-21 lead. The two-point conversion failed when White was intercepted by Bryan Flowers (Delray Beach, Fla.) at the goal line. Davidson had a chance to take the lead earlier in the fourth following a fumble by Dolphin fullback Corey Saunders (Bradenton, Fla.) at the Wildcat 48 yard line with 8:21 to play. After marching 52 yards, Leverett broke a 16-yard run but was stripped by Platt at the JU 3, where the ball was recovered by the Dolphins in the end zone.
JU opened the second half with a record-breaking drive to take a 21-14 lead. The Dolphins went 68 yards on 11 plays, and Sturgill hit Santiago for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 11:02 to play in the third. It was Sturgill's first touchdown pass of the season, but the 32nd of his career moving him past Cooper for first all-time at JU.
Davidson made it 21-20 on a three-yard run by Leverett with 10:39 to play in the game. The Wildcats capitalized on the Dolphins' second missed field goal with a four play, 53-yard drive. Davidson line up for a PAT to tie the game but faked the kick and seemed to have scored on a shuffle-pass to Jordan Sundheim, but JU punched the ball loose at the goal line.
Davidson jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on its first possession when Leverett became the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer with a 26-yard touchdown run. It capped an 80-yard, 11-play drive.
The Dolphins answered two possessions later when senior Platt picked off White for his second interception of the season and returned it 41 yards for the score to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:26 to play in the first.
JU's Jason Bense (Tallahassee, Fla.) missed a 39-yard field goal attempt to start the second quarter, but JU got the ball back when freshman DT Mirco Zanella (Palm Harbor, Fla.) stepped in front of a freshman QB Beaux Jones pass for his first career interception. The Dolphins proceeded to march 46 yards on five plays and took a 14-7 lead on a 27-yard touchdown run by Brant with 8:35 to play in the half.
Davidson tied the game at 14-14 with a 7-play, 80-yard drive with less than three minutes to play in the half. The Wildcats benefited from 30 yards of Dolphin penalties, and White hit Sundheim from six yards out with 1:35 remaining.
JU continues PFL South play next Saturday as the Dolphins host Austin Peay on Homecoming at D.B. Milne Field at 12:30 p.m.