HAPPY HOMECOMING: Jimmies defeat Chargers, 34-32
University of Jamestown head football coach Josh Kittell said earlier this week the Jimmies needed to start creating their own luck to finish off games in the fourth quarter.
The Jimmies delivered Saturday, Oct. 6, at Rollie Greeno Field against Briar Cliff University. Senior linebacker Caleb Ellingson came up with the football on a mishandled 26-yard field goal attempt by the Chargers in the final 68 seconds, and the Jimmies collected their breath in a thrilling 34-32 homecoming victory.
The win marked the first Great Plains Athletic Conference victory for coach Kittell and the Jimmies.
"You've gotta make plays. They just aren't going to come to you," said Ellingson, who ranks inside the NAIA's top 10 in tackles per game and led the Jimmies with 15 total tackles Saturday. "Credit to the guys inside, because when everyone's going hard, doing their job, big things happen."
Jamestown's defense scored three takeaways in the first half, directly resulting in a 21-19 Jimmie lead after two quarters. But the Chargers turned the tables after the break, recovering a pair of UJ fumbles and nearly storming back from a 28-19 third-quarter deficit.
Briar Cliff quarterback Jacob Diaz found receivers Elijah Brown and Khamren Davenport for touchdown passes of 28 and 14 yards, respectively, following the Jimmie turnovers, leading to UJ's slim, 34-32, advantage with 4 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
"Our defense is really playing at a high level right now, getting their hands on the ball, getting stops and finding ways to get (the offense) back on the field," Kittell said. "Unfortunately, in the second half, we turned it over and gave them too many chances."
Jamestown's final meaningful offensive possession ended dubiously. A 10-yard pass from Jimmie quarterback Jordan Mann to a sliding Barry Williams Jr. on a third-and-10 from the UJ 44-yard line was ruled incomplete, and Briar Cliff's LaDarrien Bowman returned the ensuing punt on fourth down 48 yards to the Jamestown 26. The Chargers moved the chains once to inside the red zone, but the drive stalled on the Jimmie 9 with 1:08 to play.
Briar Cliff kicker Steven Delia lined up on the left hash from 26 yards out, attempting to send the Chargers back to Sioux City, Iowa, with possibly a one-point win, but the snap hit the turf and was bobbled into the arms of Ellingson.
"We got a stop. We got them to fourth down and we made them have to make a play," Kittell said. "Luckily the ball bounced our way this time. But if you can get into games, where everything tightens up and you give yourself a chance ... I'm just so happy for these guys that they found a way to get out there and get a win. Real resilient group."
Mann and the Jimmie offense have turned a corner. For a second straight week, the junior signal caller from Bismarck tossed for over 230 yards and three scores.
Mann opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 48-yard TD pass to freshman Marcus Giles, and later found sophomore tight end James Hagen in the end zone twice. Mann completed 17 of 24 passing attempts for a career-high 245 yards and no interceptions.
"We're just getting more confident. Attitude, honestly," Mann said. "We just gotta keep the energy up. If we have a lot of energy, we can be a scary team."
Mann hit eight different receivers Saturday. Freshman Josiah Cage broke off a 44-yard touchdown run in the first, while junior Jimmy Hatch led a balanced UJ offensive backfield with 48 yards on 14 carries.
"Jordan's doing a good job of learning," Kittell said. "I think right away he wanted to do so much and he's just kinda coming into his own now. He's done a great job being a leader with all those young wideouts."
Also for a second straight week, the Jimmie defense netted three takeaways. Senior linebacker Aundre Purnell recovered a pair of fumbles, while sophomore corner Ross Monson intercepted Diaz with 1:06 remaining in the first half.
Jamestown went the entire 2017 season without intercepting an opposing quarterback and now has seven picks, and counting, in 2018.
"Honestly, we've come together as a team," Monson said. "This year we finally figured it out, everyone's buying in and it's awesome to see. You've got everyone—from freshman to senior year—making big plays."
Purnell's first-half fumble recoveries played huge. The first set up Giles' 48-yard TD pass on the very next play, and the second was a Markel Roby muffed punt recovered by Purnell on the BC 15-yard line. Mann hit Hagen two plays later to put the Jimmies up 21-19 with 1:52 left in the half and Jamestown would stay out front.
The victory put to bed a string of five straight losses for the Jimmies (2-5, 1-4 GPAC).
"We can't just rest on one win," Ellingson said. "We gotta keep fighting for more and more. We can't be complacent."
Jamestown, on bye, travels to Sioux Center, Iowa, on Oct. 20 to face Dordt College (3-2, 2-2).
"Getting better," Kittell said. "We've just got to continue to push the program forward and keep raising the bar."
Jamestown 34, Briar Cliff 32
BC 13 6 7 6 -- 32
UJ 14 7 7 6 -- 34
UJ, Marcus Giles 48 pass from Jordan Mann (Kai Madela kick), 9:32.
BC, Elijah Brown 73 pass from Jacob Diaz (Steven Delia kick failed), 7:28.
UJ, Josiah Cage 44 run (Madela kick), 4:02.
BC, Logann Freeman 40 pass from Diaz (Noah Ylagan kick), 2:41.
BC, Khamren Davenport 56 pass from Ylagan (run failed), 4:49.
UJ, James Hagen 16 pass from Mann (Madela kick), 1:52.
UJ, Hagen 21 pass from Mann (Madela kick), 11:02.
BC, Brown 28 pass from Diaz, (Ylagan kick), 0:00.
UJ, Tanner Mathern 16 run (kick blocked), 10:34.
BC, Davenport 14 pass from Diaz (run failed), 4:53.
TOTAL YARDS: BC 473 (311 passing); UJ 383 (245 passing),
PASSING: BC, Jacob Diaz 11-23-1 255, Noah Ylagan 1-1-0 56. UJ, Jordan Mann 17-24-0 245.
RUSHING: BC, Kwame Johnson 15-107, Ylagan 15-40, Diaz 7-16, Dhamren Davenport 1-5, Adonte Maxie 2-2, Darquel Emerson 1-(-8). UJ, Jimmy Hatch 14-48, Josiah Cage 3-45, Tanner Mathern 5-29, Allen Jevning 5-17, Mann 8-7, Marcus Giles 3-(-2).
RECEIVING: BC, Elijah Brown 3-108, Davenport 3-79, Logan Freeman 3-70, Rashad Brown 2-38, Cam Delgado 1-16. UJ, Marcus Giles 3-79, James Hagen 2-37, Zeb Taber 2-32, Zach Grismanauskas 3-28, Barry Williams Jr. 2-24, Liam Huseby 3-19, Nick Thompson 1-16, Allen Jevning 1-10.
INTERCEPTIONS: UJ, Ross Monson 1-4.
TACKLES: BC, Caleb Wilson 11, Markel Roby 8, Reece Alvarado 6. UJ, Caleb Ellingson 15, Ben Steinolfson 9, Cedric Terry 7, Andrew Jensen 7.
TACKLES FOR LOSS: BC, Wilson 1.5-1.5, Alvarado 0.5-1.5, Peyton Bailey 1.5-14, Marcus Tappen 0.5-0.5, Nate Villalobos -.5-1.5, Tyler Wilson 0.5-2. UJ, Ellingson 3.5-13, Zach Phillips 1.5-6, Steinolfson 1-2, Andrew Jensen 1-1.
SACKS: BC, Bailey 1.5-14, Wilson 0.5-2.
FORCED FUMBLES: BC, Omar Dyles 1. UJ, Steinolfson 1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: BC, Wilson 1-0, Dyles 1-0. UJ, Aundre Purnell 2-0.
RECORDS: Jamestown 2-5, 1-4 GPAC. Briar Cliff 4-2, 2-2.