Jacksonville spoils CSU’s home opener

Charleston Southern’s winless streak reached 14 games on Saturday afternoon as the Buccaneers dropped their 2012 home opener to Jacksonville University, 31-10.

In a game that saw both offenses struggle to find any rhythm, Jacksonville used a 39-yard interception return by Jordan DeWhirst in the third quarter and a 55-yard punt return from Terrance Bryant in the fourth quarter to score its first two touchdowns. The Dolphins (1-1) also scored on an onside kick attempt by CSU after the Bucs’ only touchdown late in the game.

Charleston Southern finished the game with 345 total yards.

“We’re just not getting 11 people offensively hitting on all cylinders,” said CSU coach Jay Mills. “We’re having missed connections, dropped passes, missed protections — it’s across the board right now. It’s disappointing honestly because I really thought we had made some strides this week in practice.”

Jacksonville took a 3-0 lead with 6:20 to play in the first quarter on Dylan Lynch’s 37-yard field goal, capping an 11-play, 72-yard drive.

The game remained 3-0 through the first half before DeWhirst picked off a Dixon pass and returned it for a score with 10:11 left in the third quarter.

CSU got a 26-yard field goal from Mark Deboy with 8:52 to play in the third, but the Dolphins answered quickly. Jacksonville’s Kade Bell connected with Anthonly Robustelli for a 46-yard TD pass with 4:19 left in the game.

Charleston Southern finally got into the end zone on Derek Hatcher’s 17-yard pass to Nathan Perera with 1:58 to play. The backup signal caller engineered the final two drives, comleting 12 of 17 passes for 138 yards in the fourth quarter.

CSU starting quarterback Malcolm Dixon completed eight of 20 pass attempts for 140 yards, but the Buccaneers managed only 67 yards on 30 attempts on the ground.

After CSU’s touchdown, Jacksonville added a score on the ensuing onside kick as DeWhirst caught the kick on a hop and raced 44 yards for a touchdown.

“Defensively I thought we did a great job and we played hard from start to finish,” said Mills. “They had two scores on special teams and had one score off our offense where we had a play open for a touchdown but the quarterback got hit and left the ball short. I thought the defense did a great job after a slow start.”

Jacksonville finished the game with 307 total yards. Freshman quarterback Bell completed 10 of 27 passes for 209 yards and was sacked three times.

“I’m proud of the offense,” said Jacksonville coach Kerwin Bell, the former University of Florida quarterback. “I felt at times we were moving the football and we just weren’t finishing drives.”

Charleston Southern (0-2) plays at Illinois on Saturday.