Second-half surge pushes JMU past ‘Nova
In front of a Family Weekend crowd of 25,047, James Madison scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to secure a 34-10 victory over Villanova in a Colonial Athletic Association football game Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field.
JMU sophomore tailback Jordan Anderson’s (Chantilly, Va./Edison) rush into the end zone gave JMU its first lead. That was followed by sophomore tailback Dae’Quan Scott’s (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) touchdown run on a swing pass from freshman quarterback Jace Edwards (Midland, Texas/Robert E. Lee), the first of his career. Edwards then connected on his longest career pass, an 80-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Kerby Long (Arlington, Va./Yorktown). Anderson capped the offensive burst with his third touchdown of the game on an 8-yard rush.
JMU, ranked 13th nationally in both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches Polls, moved its record to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in CAA play while Villanova dropped to 0-4 in conference standings and 1-6 overall.
James Madison finished the game with 23 first downs and 456 yards of total offense on a balanced 253 rushing yards and 203 passing yards. Villanova tallied 107 yards of rushing and 127 total passing yards.
Edwards threw 9-for-12 for a career-high 203 yards. Scott led the team with 109 rushing yards with Anderson contributing 85 yards and his three scores. Long recorded 103 receiving yards for JMU, 80 of which came on his fourth quarter touchdown reception.
After a scoreless first quarter, Villanova posted the first points of the game with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dustin Thomas to Kenny Miles with 8:53 left in the second quarter.
James Madison responded with a five-play scoring drive as Anderson rushed 22 yards into the end zone with 6:10 left in the second quarter. Sophomore kicker Cameron Starke’s (Halifax, Va./Halifax County) attempt at the extra point was wide left and ricocheted off the uprights, making the score 7-6 with Villanova still on top.
With 30 seconds left in the first half, Long’s option pass attempt from the 18-yard line was intercepted in the end zone by Villanova’s James Pitts, keeping the score at 7-6 Villanova at the half.
Villanova returned the second half kickoff to the 43-yard line and capped an eight-play drive with a 41-yard field goal by Mark Hamilton. The field goal came after Dustin Thomas was sacked by senior cornerback Mike Allen for a eight-yard loss with Villanova recovering a loose ball to set up the field goal attempt.
On the ensuing JMU drive, Edwards’ 41-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Daniel Brown (Windsor, Va./Isle of Wight) brought the team to the Villanova 5-yard line. Consecutive Anderson rushes of four yards and one yard put the Dukes in the end zone to take the lead for the first time at 13-10.
After holding Villanova three-and-out, JMU quickly increased the score to 20-10 with 1:44 left in the third quarter on an eight-play, 87-yard scoring drive. Scott ran for 12 yards into the Villanova end zone on a completed Edwards pass.
On Villanova’s next position into the early fourth quarter, the Wildcats reached the 30-yard line. Pressured by JMU freshman cornerback Corey Davis (Union, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), Thomas’ pass attempt to Dorian Wells on fourth-and-long was incomplete to end the drive.
With 12:27 left in the fourth quarter, Edwards threw his longest career touchdown pass of 80 yards to Long, who made a leaping catch over the receiver near midfield and broke a pair of tackles on his way to the end zone for a 27-10 JMU lead. Edwards’ 80-yard pass is the longest for the Dukes since the 2003 season when Jayson Cooke threw for 81 yards to Tahir Hinds in a contest against Rhode Island.
JMU scored its final touchdown of the game with 4:30 left on the clock as Anderson rushed eight yards to conclude a four-play, 30-yard scoring drive in just over two minutes of play. The short field was set up by a 40-yard interception return by Ryan Smith (Ashland, Va./Patrick Henry).
Junior safety Smith, junior cornerback Leavander Jones (Atlantic City, N.J./Atlantic City) and sophomore linebacker Stephon Robertson (Alexandria, Va./Edison) each recorded eight tackles to lead the Dukes defense.
After a bye week, JMU travels to Old Dominion Oct. 29 for its first meeting against the Monarchs in the 2011 Oyster Bowl. The game will be televised at noon on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.
Notes: Edwards recorded JMU’s first 200-yard passing game since Drew Dudzik threw for 213 yards on Oct. 23, 2010 at Villanova… Long posted the first 100-yard receiving game for the Dukes since he had 112 in the 2010 opener against Morehead State… Anderson became the second JMU player with three touchdowns in a game this season, joining Scott’s three at Liberty Sept. 17… JMU led time of possession 34:05 to 25:55… besides Thomas’ 127 yards passing, no Villanova player had more than 50 yards of total offense.