HARRISONBURG, Va. (Sept. 9, 2017) – They are the defending Football Championship Subdivision national champions and currently ranked No. 1 in the country. On Saturday night, the James Madison Dukes certainly looked the part.
Scoring on four of its first five possessions and relying on a defense that held ETSU to just 175 yards in total offense, James Madison rolled past the Buccaneers 52-10 in non-conference play at Bridgeforth Stadium. On a night when a crowd of 24,722 were on hand to celebrate the Dukes’ 2016 national championship, JMU did not disappoint their fans and improved to 2-0 on the season, while the Bucs dropped to 1-1 overall. With the win, JMU extended its win streak to 14 straight games, marking the longest streak amongst FCS and FBS programs.
ETSU will now return to Johnson City for back-to-back home games against Southern Conference opponents over the next two weeks, beginning with a visit from reigning conference champion The Citadel next Saturday at 1 p.m. inside William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.
In this game, it was JMU senior quarterback Bryan Schor who stood out among all the other Dukes. Going 25-of-33 through the air for 304 yards, Schor threw for five touchdowns, matching the program’s single game record for the third time in his career. His only mistake was an interception late in the first half that ETSU cornerback Domenique Williams (Charlotte) returned for a touchdown.
After watching JMU defeat Football Bowl Subdivision member East Carolina handily last week by running the ball successfully, the Bucs’ defense and its effort to stop the Dukes’ running attack was impressive. In all, JMU managed just 122 yards on 39 carries for an average of just 3.1 yards per carry compared to the 410 yards and 9.8 yards per carry the Dukes collected against ECU last week.
Defensively, junior linebacker River Boruff (Sparta) led that defensive effort with a team-high 11 tackles.
Field position was a difference maker for the Dukes, whose average start was their own 37-yard line, while the Bucs average start was their own 16. Special teams also hurt the Bucs as the Dukes returned a punt for a touchdown and consistently pinned the Bucs deep in their own territory.
HOW THEY SCORED
- James Madison 7, ETSU 0 – While the Bucs’ defense keyed on JMU’s rushing attack on the first drive of the game and did a good job of stopping it, the Dukes simply went to the air to move the ball. Schor connected on four straight passes and capped a 75-yard, eight-play drive with a 17 yard scoring toss to wide receiver Ishmael Hyman, giving JMU the early 7-0 lead with 12:24 left in the first quarter. The Dukes converted on a pair of 3rd-and-long plays on that opening drive, which included the touchdown on a 3rd-and-9 play.
- James Madison 14, ETSU 0 – After an ETSU pass intended for junior wide receiver Drake Powell (Clinton) was tipped in the air and intercepted by JMU cornerback Jimmy Moreland, the Dukes set up with exceptional field position at the Bucs’ 14-yard line. Four plays later, JMU running back Cardon Jones dove into the end zone from five yards out and the Dukes’ lead grew to 14 points with 9:02 left in the first quarter.
- James Madison 21, ETSU 0 – Following a three-and-out on the Bucs’ second offensive possession of the game, a shanked punt again gave the Dukes a short field. Starting at the ETSU 37-yard line, JMU needed just five plays before Schor connected with Hyman for their second scoring pass of the game from six yards away, capping the scoring in the first quarter.
- James Madison 28, ETSU 0 – The Bucs finally flipped field position and actually pinned the Dukes at their own 7-yard line. However, after a tiptoe catch converted a third down deep in its own territory, JMU methodically marched down the field in 16 plays, covering 93 yards and ultimately scoring on Schor’s third touchdown pass of the game, a three-yard toss to wide receiver Riley Stapleton that made it 28-0 with 6:06 left in the first half.
- James Madison 28, ETSU 7 – With JMU looking to add to their lead in what appeared to be the final possession of the first half, Schor finally made a mistake. Throwing into ETSU’s triple coverage, Schor was picked off by Williams, who then returned the interception 33 yards for ETSU’s first score of the game, making it 28-7 with 1:11 left in the first half.
- James Madison 35, ETSU 7 – Special teams haunted the Bucs once again at the start of the second half. A poor decision to attempt a return on the second half kickoff led to an ETSU holding penalty and pinned the Bucs at their own 7-yard line. After three empty plays on offense, another low punt by junior Marion Watson (Waxhaw, N.C.) allowed JMU’s John Miller to return the kick 41 yards for a score and put the Dukes up 35-7 with 13:18 left in the third quarter.
- James Madison 42, ETSU 7 – Once again, JMU’s Miller abused the Bucs’ special teams, returning an ETSU punt 43 yards to the Bucs’ 21-yard line. Five plays later, Schor and Stapleton connected for their second scoring pass of the game, making the Dukes’ lead 35 points with 6:12 left in the third.
- James Madison 42, ETSU 10 – The Bucs got back on the board thanks to some nice downfield throws by junior quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland), who connected on tosses of 38 and 10 yards to lead a six-play, 68-yard drive that resulted in a 23-yard field goal by junior kicker JJ Jerman (Seymour).
- James Madison 45, ETSU 10 – JMU responded to the Bucs’ field goal with a kick of their own. After a nine-play, 63-yard drive, junior Tyler Gray capped the possession with a 32-yard kick to regain a 35-point cushion with 20 seconds left in the third quarter
- James Madison 52, ETSU 10 – Schor connected on his fifth scoring pass of the game with 6:05 left in the contest, finding wide receiver David Eldridge for a 10-yard score with 6:05 left in regulation. It would be the final score of the night.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Williams’ interception return for a touchdown was the first for the Bucs since Nov. 15, 2003, when Allen Davis returned a pick 90 yards in a home win over Chattanooga.
- The Dukes’ punt return for a score was the first time ETSU’s special teams have allowed such a play since September of 2003.
- The Bucs are now 1-4 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams. The Bucs’ lone win against a No. 1 opponent came on Oct. 27, 2001 at home inside the Memorial Center, as ETSU dropped Georgia Southern, 19-16. The other matchups against No. 1 came versus Marshall in 1996, and Georgia Southern in both 1998 and 2000.
- ETSU is now 3-7 all-time against James Madison, having lost five straight in the all-time series. The Bucs’ last win over JMU was a 9-6 victory back on Oct. 27, 1984 in Harrisonburg.
- With his field goal in the third quarter, Jerman now has 22 made field goals in his career, which moves him just two shy of fourth on the program’s all-time list. He has also now connected on 10 of his last 12 attempts.
- With 11 stops on the night, Boruff picked up the second double-digit tackle effort of his career.
The Blue and Gold return home to open conference play as ETSU hosts No. 13 The Citadel on Saturday, Sept. 16. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.
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