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Tailbacks shine in JMU spring game

Rising sophomore tailbacks Scott Noble (Baltimore, Md./Franklin) and Corwin Acker (Landover, Md./Blake) ran for touchdowns to highlight James Madison’s spring football game at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field Saturday.
Noble, who sat out the 2008 season as a redshirt after playing as a true freshman in 2007, scored on a one-yard carry on the game’s first series. Acker, who played mostly on special teams during a true-freshman season in 2008, had a five-yard scoring run during the opening series of the game’s second half.

In the intra-squad offense-vs.-defense scrimmage, the offense scored a 44-17 victory. The offense was awarded points for scoring by traditional means – touchdowns, conversions, field goals – and for each of its first downs and for crossing midfield. The defense received points for touchdowns, turnovers, not allowing a first down on a drive, and forcing a punt from behind midfield.

Noble’s scoring run capped a 49-yard, 10-play possession. He ran five times for 16 yards during the series, and rising junior quarterback Drew Dudzik had pass completions of four yards to rising senior tight end Mike Caussin (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) and 15 yards to the one-yard line to rising senior tight end Charlie Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby).

Acker’s touchdown carry completed an 80-yard, 10-play possession that was directed by redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Thorpe (Richmond, Va./Varina). Thorpe, who sat out the 2008 season at JMU, ran four times for 30 yards and had a 14-yard completion to rising senior wide receiver Bosco Williams (Clifton Forge, Va./Alleghany) during the drive. Acker added 16 yards on three carries during the series.

Rising sophomore placekicker Dixon Wright (Crossnore, N.C./Avery County) kicked field goals of 48 and 39 yards for additional points for the offense.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Chase Williams (Gaithersburg, Md./Northwest) intercepted a Thorpe pass to provide the defense with a four-point change-of-possession play.

Thorpe finished as the game’s leading rusher with 72 yards, including a pair of sacks (13 yards) on 13 carries. Noble ran 11 times for 52 yards and Acker seven times for 34 yards.

Thorpe completed six of 11 passes for 49 yards; Dudzik hit on two of three passes for 19 yards; and rising sophomore quarterback Aaron Butler (Clearbrook, Va./James Wood) hit on three of five passes for 15 yards.

Thorpe saw a majority of the playing time at quarterback after Dudzik was slightly shaken up early during game and held out of action the rest of the way as a precautionary measure.

A combined 11 receivers caught the quarterbacks’ 11 completions.

JMU Coach Mickey Matthews, who in 2009 will direct the Dukes for an 11th season, complimented his running backs for their improvement during the spring practice period and called Noble’s play a “highlight” of the Saturday contest.

Matthews referred to the team’s quarterback situation as a “dead heat” with Dudzik’s and Thorpe’s role to continue to evolve during preseason drills. He also that the number of players not taking part in the spring game makes overall evaluations difficult.

The Dukes, who lost five defensive starters from the end of the 2008 season, also played the spring game without four players expected to be returning starters on defense – rising senior tackle Sam Daniels (Portsmouth, Va./Woodrow Wilson), rising senior end Arthur Moats (Portsmouth, Va./Churchland), rising sophomore linebacker Jamie Veney (Kilmarnock, Va./Lancaster) and rising sophomore safety Pat Williams (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial).

JMU will open the 2009 season Sept. 12 at Maryland and will play its home-opening game Sept. 19 against Virginia Military Institute.

The Dukes are coming off a 12-2 season in 2008 when they won the Colonial Athletic Association championship and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. JMU is 49-14 and has made four NCAA postseason appearances during the last five seasons.


– News Release