MACON, Ga. – Beginning their road slate in the Peach State for the second straight season, the Jacksonville University football team (1-1) battled Mercer University (1-1) in its only non-conference contest away from home during the 2018 season. The Dolphins totaled over 100 yards on the ground for the 26th consecutive contest, falling to the Bears, 45-3 at Five Star Stadium.
"It's a long season and we had a long night tonight," Head Coach Ian Shields said. "We faced a good SoCon team at home and faced an uphill climb. Ultimately, we can learn from it and grow from it and get better from facing that kind of team."
Leading the team out of the huddle under center for the second time in his career, sophomore quarterback Calvin Turner Jr. steadied the team with possession in-hand, leading in both passing and rushing for the second straight game. The Savannah, Ga. Native was aided by the Dolphin defense early-on, who held the Bears to a single score in the opening period and forced a turnover, with Macon native Vasco Sanders forcing and recovering a fumble at the Jacksonville 28-yard line.
After forcing the Dolphins to punt on their opening drive, the Bears converted their opening touch into points, beginning their home opener with a five play, 60-yard drive that concluded with a three-yard rushing score from quarterback Robert Riddle.
The home team would pull away as the contest progressed, putting points on the board on each of their next six drives. Riddle and fellow Mercer quarterback Kaelan Riley combined for three touchdowns, while running backs Tyray Devesin and Tee Mitchell added three more, with five of the six coming on the ground.
The lone offensive tally came in record-setting fashion for the 'Phins, with redshirt-junior kicker Javier Arce-Ramirez connecting on a career-long 49-yard field goal with four-and-a-half minutes left in the game, the fifth-longest boot in program history.
Defensively, the team combined for a pair of forced fumbles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery, with junior linebacker Dakota Trice setting the high tackle mark with 10.
"With a young team, we had the opportunity to play a lot of freshmen and see how they could perform in the kind of situations we were faced with," Shields continued. "It's trial by fire."
Following the road test, Jacksonville returns home next week to round out non-conference action for the 2018 campaign. The 'Phins will welcome Walsh University to D.B. Milne field for the second straight season on Saturday, Sept. 15, with play beginning at 1:00 p.m.