CHAPEL HILL, N.C.-James Madison football spotted North Carolina an early 21-0 lead, and eventually fell to the hosts 42-10 in the season opener for both squads, Sept. 3. Madison falls to 0-2 all-time against the Tar Heels.
JMU began the game slowly, allowing UNC to score on three of its first four possessions. UNC sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner connected with senior wide receiver Dwight Jones for a 34-yard touchdown pass and senior Casey Barth followed with the extra point, giving UNC an early lead of 7-0 with less than four minutes gone. On the next possession, JMU was backed up deep and forced to punt, and Carolina's Todd Harrelson returned the ball 19 yards to the JMU 22. Two plays later, true freshman running back Giovani Bernard ran 12 yards for the score. Barth recorded his second extra point of the game, giving the Tar Heels a 14-0 advantage with just under five minutes left to play in the opening period. Early in the second quarter, senior running back Ryan Houston rushed for the third touchdown of the game for UNC, this time a 1-yarder. Barth once again cleared the goal post, bringing Carolina's lead to 21-0.
JMU tallied its first points of the 2011 season when redshirt-junior quarterback Justin Thorpe (Richmond, Va./Varina) connected with redshirt-freshman wide reciever Daniel Brown (Windsor, Va./Isle of Wight) for a 41-yard touchdown pass. Sophomore kicker Cameron Starke (Halifax, Va./Halifax County (West Virginia)) completed the point-after attempt, making the score 21-7 late in the second quarter. However, Carolina responded immediately, cover 67 yards in just 1:26, with Bernard going the final 14 yards into the end zone with just over a minute remaining in the half and the extra point gave UNC a 28-7 halftime advantage.
The Dukes opened the second half with a 19-play drive over 10:06. Starke capped off the 55-yard drive, that included two successful fourth-down conversions, with a 31-yard field goal. The 19-play march for JMU is the longest scoring drive under Head Coach Mickey Matthews.
Carolina's Renner pushed into the endzone for an early fourth quarter touchdown, scoring on a 1-yard sneak to push the lead to 35-10. The final touchdown for UNC came with under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard pass from Renner to Jones, providing the final 42-10 margin.
UNC outgained JMU in total yardage 461 to 211 and in rushing yards 184-59. The Dukes held a time of possession advantage of 31:04 to 28:56 and committed no turnovers in the game.
Redshirt-sophomore tailback Jordan Anderson (Chantilly, Va./Westfield) led JMU in rushing with 40 yards on 13 carries and Thorpe was 11-for-15 through the air for 152 yards and one touchdown. Redshirt-sophomore linebacker Stephon Robertson (Alexandria, Va./Edison) tallied eight tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, to lead the Dukes. Redshirt-freshman safety Dean Marlowe (Queens, NY/Holy Cross) had his first collegiate interception in the second quarter and added four tackles during the game to the effort.
UNC's Renner set a new ACC record for pass completion percentage by completing 22 of his 23 pass attempts for 277 yards and two scores. The .957 percentage is now second in NCAA history for a passer with 20-29 attempts. Jones had nine receptions for 116 yards and two scores, while Bernard was the game's leading rusher with nine carries for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
JMU returns to Harrisonburg next Saturday for the home opener against Central Connecticut State at 6 p.m. The game will be the first in the newly-renovated Bridgeforth Stadium.