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#9 JMU falls at #15 ODU

In the first-ever football meeting between the two programs, the #9 James Madison football team lost a tight Colonial Athletic Association battle at #15 Old Dominion, falling to the host Monarchs, 23-20, Oct. 29. With the loss, the Dukes fall to 5-3 and 3-2 in CAA play, while ODU advanced to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in league action.

A key part of the story was JMU’s offensive line, as three starters went down during the game, two in the first half and one early in the second. This stymied the Dukes to just 76 yards of offense in the second half after putting together 266 in the first.

JMU had one last chance late in the game after getting the ball at its own 28, trailing by three. The Dukes got it down to the ODU 30-yard line but sophomore kickerCameron Starke (Halifax, Va./Halifax County (West Virginia)) had his 47-yard field goal attempt blocked at the line of scrimmage as time expired.

JMU was slightly outgained overall, as ODU had 362 yards of offense to 342 for JMU. The Dukes had 103 yards of rushing and a season-high 239 yards of passing. JMU also held a slight time advantage, holding the ball 31:44 in the game.

ODU took opening kickoff and went 75 yards in eight plays for the game’s first score. The final play came on 17-yard touchdown from freshman quarterback Taylor Heinecke to wide receiver Larry Pinkard. The extra point by Jarod Brown was good and the Monarchs had an early 7-0 lead.

JMU answered with a 12-play, 60-yard drive of its own. However, the drive stalled at the Monarch’s 15 yard line. Sophomore kickerCameron Starke (Halifax, Va./Halifax County (West Virginia)) split the uprights from 32 yards out, his eighth straight made field goal, and the ODU lead was trimmed to 7-3 with 4:55 to play in the first quarter.

After JMU’s defense forced a 3-and-out possession, the Dukes got the ball back on their own 29 yard line.  A 36-yard pass from redshirt-freshman quarterbackJace Edwards (Midland, Texas/Robert E. Lee) to sophomore wide receiver Renard Robinson (Baltimore, Md./Mt. St. Joseph’s) on the first play put JMU back on the ODU side of the field at the 40. Six plays later, sophomore running backDae’Quan Scott (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) went around right end and cut through a hole to score the touchdown and put JMU up 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Old Dominion came back and appeared to be stopped short of the end zone. On 4th-and-1 from the 23-yard line, the snap was fumbled by Heinecke who was scrambling and threw a prayer into the end zone, which was caught by for a touchdown by Pinkard, giving the hosts a 14-10 lead early in the second.

Madison punched the ball on the end zone to the cap its next possession. Another key play a 34-yard pass from Edwards to wide receiverDaniel Brown (Windsor, Va./Isle of Wight) to put the ball deep in ODU territory. Scott took it the final five yards for his second touchdown of the game and the Dukes had a 17-14 advantage with just over nine minutes to go until halftime.

Another stop for the Dukes’ defense resulted in the ball coming back to JMU. From there, Madison put together a 13-play, 74-yard drive that chewed up just over six minutes on the game clock. However, the drive was squelched at the ODU 6. Starke came on and banged through his second field goal of the game, this time from 23 yards out, to push it to a 20-14 lead for the visitors with 46 seconds left in the half.

ODU got the ball in position for one final field goal attempt, but seniorTaveion Cuffee (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial (Fork Union)) came off the end and blocked Brown’s 45-yard attempt and Madison went into the locker room with a six-point halftime lead.

After a muffed kickoff resulted in JMU not getting out of its own 10 on the first possession, ODU got the ball on the Dukes’ 41 for its first drive of the second half. The drive was stopped at the JMU 3, forcing the field goal attempt. Brown hit the 19 yarder and the lead was down to 20-17 Madison with 9:45 to go in the third.

After several changes of possession, ODU put points on the board again. The 8-play, 53-yard drive again ended in JMU territory and Brown hit a 40-yard field goal attempt to tie the game at 20 with 2:05 to go in the third quarter.

The host Monarchs took the lead again on their first drive of the second half, going 56 yards in 10 plays over 2:34. Heinecke keyed the drive with his feet, getting out of the pocket at the right time and eluding the JMU defense for a 33-yard run to get the ball at the Dukes’ 11. However, the Madison defense stiffened again at the right time, forcing a 25-yard field goal by Brown that made it 23-20 ODU with 12:14 to play in the game.

Edwards finished the game 17-for-26 for a career-high 239 yards and no turnovers, while Scott was the leading rusher for the Dukes with 16 carries for 77 yards and two scores before his injury in the third quarter. Junior tight end Brian Barlow (Stephens City, Va./Sherando) had career-highs of eight catches for 79 yards. Sophomore linebackerStephon Robertson led the Dukes with 11 total tackles, the sixth time in eight games he has led JMU.

Heinecke was the key for the Monarchs, going 22-for-35 for 236 yards and two scores through the air, while rushing 11 times for 50 yards, including several key scrambles. Pinkard finished with six catches for 94 yards and two scores.

Madison will remain on the road for its next game, traveling next Saturday, Nov. 5 to Concord, N.H., to take on the #10 New Hampshire Wildcats. Kickoff is slated for noon.

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