JMU defeats Georgia State, 28-21

Redshirt-junior running back Dae’Quan Scott went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the 11th time in his career to lead No. 9/10 James Madison to a 28-21 win against Georgia State. The Dukes moved to 6-2 and 4-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association, while the Panthers are 1-8 and 1-5 against league foes.

Scott finished the game with 130 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. It was his second-straight game of 100 yards rushing and he finished the game at 2,085 career rushing yards. He also had five catches for 37 yards and another score. Freshman quarterback Michael Birdsong, in his first collegiate start, was 11-for-23 for 119 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Birdsong added six rushes for 43 yards while redshirt-junior tailback Jordan Anderson ran 11 times for 48 yards and a touchdown. Scott was the team’s leading receiver catching five passes for 37 yards and a score. Redshirt-senior safety Jackarie Jackson had a game-high 12 tackles, including nine solo stops while redshirt-junior middle linebacker Stephon Robertson went into double digits in tackles for the fourth-straight game with 10. He had 2.5 tackles for a loss. Sophomore defensive end Sage Harold had two of the team’s three sacks.

Georgia State running back Travis Evans ran for 98 yards on 18 carries and quarterback Ben McLane completed 22 of 37 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi caught six passes for 17 yards and a touchdown and ran the ball twice for 71 yards. Free safety D’Mario Gunn led the team with 10 tackles, including one stop for a loss.

The Dukes scored first, converting a fumble off sophomore safety Dean Marlowe’s forced fumble that was recovered by redshirt-senior linebacker Jamie Veney. Madison then went 23 yards in four plays, capped off by Birdsong to Scott for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Redshirt-junior kicker Cameron Starke’s PAT was good and JMU led 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.

After an exchange of possessions, the Panthers got on the scoreboard with an 8-play, 81-yard drive over 3:13. Evans got GSU into scoring position with a 45-yard scamper down to the JMU 1-yard line and then took it in from there on the next carry to tie the game at seven with just over five minutes to go in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, JMU retook the lead on a four-yard run by Scott, his second score of the game. The run capped off a quick 6-play, 63-yard march in just over two minutes, putting JMU up 14-7 with a tick under 14 minutes left in the half.

A deflected pass that would have put the Dukes in scoring position late in the half ended up with a GSU interception and the two teams entered halftime with Madison up 14-7.

The Dukes extended the lead late in the third quarter, taking just five plays to go 68 yards, which included a 29-yard dash by Scott down to the GSU 20. Two plays, Anderson scored on a 13-yard run and JMU extended its lead to 21-7 with just over a minute to go in the third.

Next possession, Madison’s defense held for a three-and-out, forcing a Georgia State punt. On the punt, defensive end Brandon Lee busted through the defense, blocked the punt and picked it up, running three yards for the touchdown and a 28-7 JMU lead.

GSU cut into the lead on an 8-play 81-yard drive. From the wildcat formation, running back Rosevelt Watson threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ogbuehi to cut the lead down to 28-14 with 10:47 left in the contest.

The Panthers got the ball back and on fourth down at the GSU 45, the visitors faked the punt and Ogbuehi took the direct snap and rambled 54 yards, including a solid stiff arm, to put the ball at the Dukes’ 10. Quarterback McLain then threw a screen pass to running back Parris Lee, who tightroped into the end zone for the score, making it 28-21 JMU with 6:31 to go. GSU had one last chance with under a minute but the final pass from the JMU 45 did not get off as Harold had his second sack of the game to end the contest.

JMU returns to the field next Saturday, Nov. 3, as it travels up to Orono, Maine for a 3:30 p.m. contest against the University of Maine.

Augusta Health Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press