The loss drops Stetson to 2-8 overall and 1-6 in PFL games. Jacksonville ends its season at 5-6 and 4-4.
“I told the team after the game that they have nothing to hang their heads about,” said head coach Roger Hughes. “They played their tails off, they played for 60 full minutes and they got better today. The results don’t show it with a win, and that is what we want but, overall, we played better today.”
“The game was really a lot closer than the score. Toward the end we had to take some chances to try to get on the board quick because we were still trying to win the game. It is not about keeping the score close, it is about winning.
Jacksonville’s high-powered offense piled up 633 yards. But despite the yardage total and the final score, Stetson was on the verge of taking control of the game late in the third quarter.
Trailing 24-10 after a 30-yard scoring run by Ulysses Bryant with 11:09 left in the third quarter, Stetson put together a 7-play, 83-yard drive for a score, capped by a four yard run by Dre Long, pulling the Hatters to within 24-17 with 8:06 left in the third.
Chris Atkins intercepted a pass on Jacksonville’s next possession, but the Hatters’ offense stalled out after three plays and Stetson was forced to punt.
Stetson’s defense again slowed the Dolphins, and forced another punt, but this time the Hatters’ special teams came up with the game’s biggest play. Ryan Powers recovered a blocked punt and rumbled 28 yards for a touchdown with 3:09 left in the third, tying it at 24.
With the game now tied, Stetson’s defense forced another turnover when Adam Vinson intercepted Bell deep in Stetson territory.
After Long rushed for 15 yards and Ryan Tentler connected with Mike Yonker on a 44-yard pass play to give the Hatters first down at the JU 28, Tentler fumbled a pitch attempt on the next play and JU’s Charlie Jimenez recovered and went 60 yards for a game-changing touchdown, giving the Dolphins at 31-24 lead with 52 seconds left in the quarter.
Jacksonville added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard scoring pass from Bell to Andy Robustelli, and a Bell-to-D’Andre Randle 37-yard pass. The Hatters were limited to just 13 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t execute when we needed to,” said Hughes. “We got the ball back in some great situations and we didn’t score points. We missed a field goal in the Red Zone, we came away with a field goal instead of a touchdown when we were on the three, and those things will come back to haunt you against good teams.”
Jacksonville opened the game with a three-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown. Bell started the drive by connecting with Randle on a 45-yard pass play, and found Robustelli wide open in the front corner of the end zone two plays later for a 26-yard scoring pass.
After the Hatters went three-and-out, Jacksonville’s next drive was cut short when Chris Atkins picked off Bell and returned the interception 30 yards to the JU 48. Seven plays later, Tentler knotted the score at 7-7 with an 18-yard touchdown run.
Stetson took a 10-7 lead on a 20-yard field goal by Ronak Patel with 14:58 left in the second quarter.
But the lead didn’t last long. JU put together a 59 yards drive which resulted in a 36-yard field goal by Dylan Lynch, knotting the game at 10-10 with 12:07 remaining in the half.
The Dolphins regained the lead on their next drive. Bell connected with Caudio for a 40-yard touchdown pass, giving JU a 17-10 advantage with 6:32 before halftime.
“The game was really a lot closer than the score,” said Hughes. “Toward the end we had to take some chances to try to get on the board quick because we were still trying to win the game. It is not about keeping the score close, it is about winning.
Tentler finished the game 19-of-34 passing for 261 yards. He also rushed 11 times for 28 yards. Yonker caught three passes and finished with a team-high 99 yards.
Overall the Hatters collected 382 yards of total offense.
Bell was 17-of-32 passing and had a pair of receivers reach the 100-yard mark. Randle finished with 137 yards on six receptions and Robustelli had six catches for 101 yards.
Donald Payne recorded a game-high 12 tackles, including a sack and two other tackles for loss. Atkins and Ryan Powers each had eight tackles.
The Hatters close out the 2013 season when they visit Mercer, 4 p.m., Saturday, November 23 in Macon, Ga.
Stetson at Jacksonville – November 16, 2013
• Running back A.J. Washington made his first start of the year.
• Cornerback Chris Atkins recorded his team-leading fifth interception of the year in the first quarter. It was the first pick for the Hatters since the Marist game. He added his second pick of the day, and sixth of the year, in the fourth quarter.
• Ronak Patel attempted and converted his first field goal of the year in the 2nd quarter, connecting on a 20-yard attempt to give the Hatters a 10-7 lead. Patel added his first PAT in the third quarter.
• Stetson’s block of a JU field goal attempt in the second quarter was the first field goal block of the season for the Hatters. SU has two blocked punts this year.
• Dre Long’s 4-yard TD run in the third quarter was his first of the season.
• Stetson ran a hook and lateral on their 3rd quarter TD drive with QB Ryan Tentler passing to Nick LaSala, who then pitched to center Fletcher Eldemire.
• Injuries took a toll for the Hatters during the game. The list of Stetson players who got nicked up during the game included LB Ryan Gildea, DT Zack Boryla, RB AJ. Washington, RB Darius Chapes, LB Devin Jessmer, WR Terrance Burt, LB Ignacio Madrid, DB Chris Atkins and DB Glenn Adesoji.
• Ryan Powers recorded the third blocked punt of the year for Stetson in the third quarter. He scooped up the ball after the block and returned it 28 yards for a game-tying touchdown. The other blocked punts this year were by Keegan Tanner against Warner and Darius Chapes at Butler.
• Adam Vinson recorded his first interception of the year in the third quarter to stop JU in the red zone.
• The Hatters were flagged for their most penalties (7) and penalty yards (55) since the third game of the season.