Late Score Lifts JU Past Dayton

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photo courtesy of Michael McCredie

The Jacksonville University Football team (3-1, 1-0) opened conference play with a 21-17 win against the Dayton Flyers (1-3, 0-1). JU came out victorious on a late score by Colby Walden.

After a 12 play scoring drive by Dayton, Walden picked up a squib kick and returned it for the game-winning score, lifting JU to a 1-0 conference record.

Calling off Hank Farmer to let the ball by, Walden was yelling as loud as he could over the surrounding noise. Thankfully for the Dolphins, Farmer heard Walden amidst the 29 mph wind gusts and 2,500 screaming fans. Walden was able to break multiple tackles on his way to an 85 yard return for the score.

“I could hear him a little, yelling ‘let it go, let it go’,’’ Farmer said. “I was happy to let it go because I didn’t want the game coming down to me returning a kick.’’

This was JU’s first win in Dayton and their first win at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.

“It’s a tough place to play,’’ JU coach Kerwin Bell said. “Colby Walden made a special play and we finished every play and that’s what it took to win here.”

Walden, one of the top kick return players in the country, was noticeably excited and emotional about the big play.

“Big time players make big time plays,’’ Walden said. “I refuse to lose. I am not going to see my senior season go down the drain. I said to myself ‘I am going to make a play’ and that’s what I did.’’

“We have a job to do this year and we’re going to take care of that job,’’ Walden said. “If I’m in this, I’m going to make sure we take care of this job. Football today was good. We knew we had to play like that. Dayton is good.’’

Prior to Walden propelling JU to victory, Dayton quarterback Will Bardo conducted a 12 play, 58 yard drive leading Dayton to a touchdown and into the lead.

After JU regained the lead, Bardo stepped back onto the field with a similar goal in mind. Dayton got the ball at their own 15 yard line and Bardo went to work. He completed a pass to Braden Johnson for 17 yards although the play looked as if it would go for much more. Thankfully JU’s Blythe Weaver came up with a monumental stop.

A 23 yard fake punt run by freshman linebacker Justin Horton highlighted the action in the third quarter. JU first scored on an 43 yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Andre Addison. Their later score came on a touchdown pass by Kade Bell to tight end Anthony Robustelli. Bell was 15 of 25 for 153 yards and a touchdown.

JU’s next contest will be the Homecoming game, Saturday at D.B. Milne when they host Marist (2-2, 1-0).