JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JU senior Colby Walden has a favorite saying: "Big time players make big time plays.'' He might want to add that players who make big plays set records and help teams win.
For the second consecutive week, Walden, from Tampa, Fla., returned a kickoff for a game winning touchdown, this one a school-record 99 yards, as the Dolphins beat Marist, 26-14 at D.B. Milne Field Saturday.
The win was the 16th consecutive home win for JU, the current best streak in the FCS, and was the team's ninth consecutive homecoming win and second win in the young Pioneer Football League season.
It was Walden's fourth career touchdown on a kickoff return, another school record.
Last week, Walden returned a kickoff 85 yards with 1:23 to play for the winning score against Dayton.
"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.''
Walden almost broke another return for a score to open the game but was tackled after picking up 42 yards.
"Two would have been better than one,'' he said.
This Walden touchdown came with 11:58 to play after Marist (2-3, 1-1) has scored when running back Wale Onakoya capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 2 yard run and a 14-10 lead.
After Walden's return, the teams traded possessions and JU was able to get good field position after a Marist punt at the Marist 37. On the first play from scrimmage, redshirt senior Eric Baker went the distance for a touchdown, the team's first rushing touchdown, and longest run, of the year.
The JU offense struggled early and put up only one score in the first half when quarterback Kade Bell connected with freshman Frantz Caudio on a 15-yard pass with 3:32 to play in the first half. That tied the score at seven.
Place kicker Dylan Lynch had the only points for either team in the third quarter when he was good on a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter which set the stage for the fourth quarter scoring.
JU (4-1, 2-0) rounded out the scoring with a safety late in the game.
"Our special teams, which is one of our five principals - win at home, be the most physical, win the special teams battle, win the turnover battle, win the field position battle - those five points are a great part of this football team and that's why we're winning games,'' coach Kerwin Bell said.
Bell said the gradual improvement on offense was expected.
"We're not relying on just being a great offensive team,'' he said. "We knew coming back that this was going to be a young offensive team. All those points are important to us because we don't have a high powered offensive team right now. I think it's going in the right direction and when we get there, we're going to going to be really exciting because we're going to be really great everywhere.''
Kade Bell ended the game completing 21 of 28 pass for 210 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Baker led all rushers with 60 yards on 14 carries and wide receiver Dorian Guy had six catches for 80 yards. Teammate Adrian Riley had five catches and now has caught a pass in each of the last 13 games.
Senior defensive tackle Mike Mayoral led the charge on his side of the ball as he was in on eight tackles (three solo, five assists), had two sacks, two and a half tackles for loss and one quarterback hit. Four Dolphins, Tre Davis, Juan Pimienta, Jordan Dewhirst and Taylor Marsh all had seven tackles.
The Dolphins travel to Morehead State Saturday for another PFL encounter at 1 p.m.
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