Roundup: JMU falls, Richmond, VMI post big wins

The #11 James Madison football squad fought on the road but came up on the short end of a 14-7 loss at defending national champion #6 Villanova, Oct. 23. With their second straight conference loss, the Dukes fell to 4-3 and 1-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association while the Wildcats moved to 5-2 and 3-1 in league action.

Both teams missed field-goal attempts in the first half before the host Wildcats got on the board with a 15-play, 80-yard march over 7:39. This included Villanova converting a fake punt at the 50 with a 23-yard run by Dominic Scarnecchia midway through the drive to put VU in deep in Madison territory at the 27. Quarterback Chris Whitney capped off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Norman White. Nick Yako hit the extra point to make it 7-0 with 4:19 remaining in the first half.

VU struck again after a 3-and-out for the Dukes gave the hosts the ball back with just under three minutes to play in the half. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Whitney hit a streaking Mikey Reynolds for a 54-yard touchdown and the Wildcats were up 14-0 at the halftime break.

JMU got the ball to start the second half and took it 73 yards on nine plays, including a pair of third-down conversions, to punch it in the end zone with just over five minutes gone in the half. Out of the Wildcat formation, redshirt-freshman Kavon Seaton took it in from the 2 for the score. Redshirt-freshman kicker Ben Hopewell hit the extra point and the lead was trimmed to 14-7 VU.

The Dukes got one last opportunity after forcing a turnover on fourth down from the JMU 1 and getting the ball back on their own 6. Madison got down to the Villanova 36 before trying the Hail Mary play as time expired that was intercepted in the end zone.

Villanova outgained JMU 368-300, but the Dukes did put together 213 yards of offense through the air. The Wildcats had 209 yards of rushing while the Dukes had just 87 on 32 carries. Madison was solid on third-down conversions, making 10-of-17 attempts.

Redshirt-senior quarterback Drew Dudzik was 22-for-32 for 213 yards on the day, while junior Kerby Long and senior Griff Yancey each had five receptions, as seven Madison players had receptions on the afternoon. Junior Scott Noble led the rushing game with 14 carries for 39 yards. Redshirt-freshman Stephon Robertson and junior linebacker Pat Williams tied for the team high with 11 tackles each, including 1.5 tackles for loss by each player. Of Robertson’s 11 stops, 10 of them were solos.

VU was paced on the ground by Angelo Babbaro with 13 rushed for 72 yards. Whitney finished the game 13-for-19 for 159 yards and two scores, with White leading all receivers with seven catches for 73 yards and one score. Marquis Kirkland led the Wildcats with 10 stops, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks.

JMU returns home to host Massachusetts at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field, Sat., Oct. 30. Kickoff on CAA Television is set for 3:30 p.m.

UR rolls past Towson

Sophomore FB Kendall Gaskins racked up his first career 100-yard rushing game and the Richmond defense forced four turnovers as No. 16 Richmond rolled past Towson, 28-6, before a sold-out crowd on Homecoming at Robins Stadium.

Richmond (4-3, 2-2) won consecutive games for the first time this season and has allowed just three offensive touchdowns in the last three games. Towson’s TD with 1:58 left in the third quarter was the first allowed by the Richmond defense in nearly 60 minutes of clock time.

Senior All-America and Buck Buchanan Award candidate DT Martin Parker finished with a team-high 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three QB hurries, leading a Richmond defense that racked up a season-high in sacks (5.0) and matched its season-high with four takeaways.

Sophomore LB Darius McMillan was in on nine tackles and senior Buchanan Award nominee LB Eric McBride, who made his 50th-consecutive start Saturday (longest active streak in CAA Football), made eight.

The Spiders, playing 10 regulars down due to injury and with their fourth-string quarterback, rushed for a season-high 237 yards, committed just four penalties and did not turn the ball over.

True freshman QB Montel White was six-for-10 passing with 73 yards and a three-yard TD pass to sophomore TE Kevin Finney, which put the Spiders up 12-0 with 5:29 left in the first half.

Although having his first extra-point attempt blocked and missing the second, sophomore K Wil Kamin drilled all three of his field goal attempts – from 45 (career-long), 39 and 30 yards – and remains a perfect six-for-six on FG tries in his career – all coming this season.

Redshirt freshman Jovan Smith, who finished with 76 yards on 10 carries, capped an eight-play, 61-yard drive with a seven-yard scamper that put Richmond up 6-0 with 6:10 left in the first.

The Spiders forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff – forced by Wayne Pettus and recovered by Eric McBride at the Towson 14-yard line. Two plays later, White hit Finney with a three-yard TD pass.

Towson (1-5, 0-4) turned it over again on their next possession when CB Tremayne Graham blitzed off the corner, blind-sided QB Chris Hart and Brandon Scott recovered the fumble. The first of Kamin’s field goals came off that takeaway.

Graham finished with a career-high 10 tackles and had one of the Spiders’ two second-half interceptions. Senior S Colin Pehanick had the other – the first of his career.

Gaskins, whose six-yard TD run capped the scoring in the fourth quarter, finished with 100 yards on 16 carries, including the longest rush in the four-game history of Robins Stadium (47 yards). Junior Garrett Wilkins rushed five times for 41 yards.

White, who earned his first career start last Saturday and led the game-winning drive at No. 8 Massachusetts, completed his first four passes of the game and hit four different receivers for his six completions on the day (three to Tre Gray for 58 yards.).

Richmond is back on the road next Saturday for a key CAA Football game at No. 6 Villanova. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet.

VMI knocks off Charleston Southern

Redshirt junior tailback Chaz Jones scored three rushing touchdowns and the VMI defense picked off four passes en route to a 34-16 Big South road victory over Charleston Southern Saturday afternoon at Buccaneer Field.

VMI evened its Big South record to 2-2 and 3-4 overall while the Bucs dropped their fifth straight game to fall to 2-5, 0-3 in the conference.

The Keydets broke open a tight game with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to grab their initial road win of 2010 and the first since a 30-21 victory over Presbyterian College on October 24, 2009. It was also VMI’s first win against Charleston Southern since 2005 and the first at North Charleston since 2002.

The VMI defense carried the day with the four picks and limited Charleston Southern to 60 yards rushing on the day – the fewest yards allowed an opponent this year. Taking advantage of excellent field position throughout most of the afternoon, the VMI offense converted 5-of-5 red zone scoring opportunities.

Jones became the first VMI back to rush for three touchdowns in a game since Howard Abegesah produced three scores in the win against Presbyterian in 2009.

VMI had intercepted just three passes on the season heading into the game, but more than doubled its output by the end of the afternoon. The tone was set early in the contest on CSU’s opening drive when cornerback Greg Walker snatched a batted pass and raced 58 yards down the left for the game’s first score. The extra point by Jeff Sexton was good and the VMI led, 7-0, with 11:58 left in the first quarter.

The Bucs came back to knot the score at 7-7 when standout receiver and return man Gerald Stevenson caught a dump pass over the middle and bounced out of the pack before racing down the left boundary for a 69-yard touchdown at the 11:00 mark of the first quarter.

Charleston Southern later in quarter assumed what turned out to be its only lead of the game when an 8-play, 80-yard drive produced a 24-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Andrew Trudnowski to redshirt-senior wideout Kwame Krakue. Senior kicker John Paglia missed the extra point and the Bucs led 13-7 with 5:27 left in the period. The key play of the drive was a 38-yard pass to Deon Lee to the VMI 38.

VMI freshman quarterback Eric Kornenbrock made his first career start, but was forced to leave the game on VMI’s second drive when his throwing hand was bruised executing a swing pass. Redshirt junior quarterback Cam Jones took over midway the first quarter and engineered VMI’s longest and most time consuming drive of the afternoon that would put them back on top for good.

The Keydets, sparked by a 29-yard pass to Tracy Hairston to the CSU 5, capped the possession two plays later on a Chaz Jones two-yard dive into the end zone with 12:42 left in the second quarter. The extra point was good and the VMI offense had moved 76 yards in eight plays for the go-ahead points.

The VMI defense bottled up the Bucs on the next possession and a poor punt by CSU’s Andy Brown went 17 yards to give VMI the ball at the CSU 38. A 23-yard run by Chaz Jones to the CSU 15 opened the drive, but a one-yard rushing loss and two straight incompletions forced VMI to settle for a Sexton 30-yard field goal to push the lead to 17-13 with 6:18 left in the first half and the tally held up as the teams went to halftime.

VMI opened the second half by fumbling away on its second play from scrimmage at its own 25, but the Keydet defense began a string of several second half defensive stops that would prove decisive. Cornerback Byron Allen knifed in on a run blitz to halt CSU back Demarcus Moon for no gain on third-and-one at the 16, and Josh Atkinson was tossed down for a three-yard pass loss the next play to squash the drive.

The Bucs were able to close within 17-16 on their next possession, however, when Paglia knocked through a 38-yard field goal at the 8:30 mark of the period.

Charleston Southern would not cross midfield on its next four drives which set the stage for VMI’s fourth quarter outburst.

Forced to punt from its own 22 early in the final period, a high snap forced CSU punter Brown to bail out his punt attempt and run, but VMI’s Bryan Barnson wrapped him up at the CSU 4 and two plays later, Chaz Jones dove in from two-yard out to break the game open and put VMI on top, 24-16, with 9:38 remaining.

The Keydets would later tack on insurance scores when linebacker Alex Ray’s interception return to the CSU 37 set up a Sexton 34-yard field goal with 7:33 left. The ensuing Buc drive would stall in downs at its Charleston Southern 12, and the Keydets quickly put the game away three plays later when Jones slammed in from one-yard out and the extra-point by Sexton pushed the final margin to 34-16 with 2:36 left.

Charleston Southern’s final bid for points ended on its last drive when Michael Johnson picked off a Trudnowski pass in the end zone with 30 ticks left in the contest.

VMI was outgained 326-242 for the game and overcame the short end of a 35:47 to 24:13 count in time of possession by holding CSU to six of 19 in third down conversions and producing four takeaways. Redshirt junior linebacker A.J. Gross racked up a career-high 17 tackles while nose guard Josh Wine piled up a career-high 12 stops including two key sacks for 11 yards. The Keydet defense finished the day with seven tackles-for-loss that backed up the CSU offense for a total of 40 yards.

Chaz Jones led VMI rushers with 51 yards to accompany his three touchdowns while Tracy Hairston, T.J. Talley, and Barnson each snagged three aerials. Keydet QB Cam Jones completed 10 of 29 passes for 114 yards and did not throw an interception.

VMI successfully limited the dynamic Stevenson’s touches and impact following his long TD reception in the first quarter, and the senior finished with six catches for 60 yards following his scoring catch and run. Stevenson was also quieted to two punt returns for 15 yards and never touched the ball on a kickoff return after running back a pair for scores last week against Gardner-Webb.

VMI will travel to West Point, N.Y. next Saturday to face Army in a noon kickoff that will be televised nationally by CBS College Sports.


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