JU Rocks and Rolls Their Way to Victory


By: Brett Durda

The Jacksonville University football team (4-1, 2-0) scratched and clawed their way to a 16th consecutive home victory and ninth consecutive homecoming victory against Marist College. After a slow start, the Dolphins managed to keep the game within striking distance and capitalized when they saw their opening.

With 11:58 left to play, the week’s hero Colby Walden took a kickoff 99 yards for the score after Marist’s Wale Onakoya scored giving the Red Foxes a 14-10 lead. Walden’s score, a school record, gave the dolphins a 17-10 edge.

“Like I said last week, losing is not an option for Jacksonville University,’’ Walden said. “Our offense has been struggling so the defense and special teams will pick them up.’’

For the second consecutive week, Walden was named National Performer of the Week by College football Performance Awards and PFL Special Team’s Player of the Week. It was the second consecutive week Walden returned a kick for a touchdown that pushed JU into the lead. Just as in the week prior, Walden’s score came right after an opponent score.

The return against Marist broke the previous record of 94 yards set by Tyrone Wright in a game against Drake University in 2001. It was also the fourth kickoff return touchdown in Walden’s career, yet another school record. He now has four of the top five longest kickoff returns in JU history.

JU never looked back, bursting ahead for a 26-14 victory in front of a raucous crowd.

Quarterback Kade Bell completed 21 of 28 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown. Eric Baker led the team in rushing with 60 yards on 14 carries. Wide receiver Dorian Guy caught six passes for 80 yards.

Defensive tackle Mike Mayoral led the defensive surge with three solo tackles and five assists. Mayoral had two sacks and two and a half tackles for a loss. Tre Davis, Juan Pimienta, Jordan Dewhirst and Taylor Marsh each had seven tackles.

After Walden put JU in the lead, the defense forced Marist to punt. On the first play following, Eric Baker ran for another score pulling the Dolphins away from the Red Foxes.

JU’s special teams continued to shine, accounting for one touchdown and nearly scoring two others baring a penalty and a last second trip.

“Our special teams, which is one of our five principals, along with win at home, are the most physical, win the turnover battle and win the field position battle, are a great part of this football team and that’s why we’re winning games,’’ coach Kerwin Bell said.

With their home winning streak still intact, JU hits the road this week as they head to Kentucky to take on division competitor Morehead State Saturday at 1 p.m.