WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - In front of a sold-out Zable Stadium crowd, #10 James Madison utilized a strong ground game, good defense overall and a key turnover conversion to come away with 20-14 at #5 William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both squads, Sept. 24. With the victory, the Dukes move to 3-1 on the year and 1-0 in league action, with the Tribe falling to 2-2 and 0-1 in conference play.
After a scoreless first period where both teams failed to convert fourth downs, including one deep in Tribe territory, the Dukes got on the scoreboard with the opening play of the second quarter. Redshirt-junior quarterback Justin Thorpe (Richmond, Va./Varina) connected with redshirt-senior wide receiver Kerby Long (Arlington, Va./Yorktown/Fork Union) for a 52-yard touchdown pass, which included Long hurtling a W&M defender at the Tribe 20 and breaking away from two others. Redshirt-sophomore kicker Cameron Starke (Halifax, Va./Halifax County (West Virginia)) hit the point after and Madison had a 7-0 lead.
Madison again found the scoreboard on its next drive, moving the ball inside William & Mary's 10. However, the drive stalled deep, forcing a field goal attempt from 26 yards out. Starke connected from the right hash on his fourth straight make, giving the Dukes a 10-0 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half. The Dukes held through the remainder of the half and entered halftime with the 10-point advantage.
After being backed up to its own 1 on its second drive of the third quarter, William & Mary used three key pass plays to get on the board and complete a 99-yard drive. After a 34-yard completion from Michael Graham to Ryan Moody got them out of their own end zone, Graham connected two times with D.J. Mangas, including the final 38 yards for the touchdown. Drake Kuhn hit the point after and the margin was trimmed to three at 10-7 JMU with 3:52 to play in the third.
The Dukes' defense made up for the previous drive the next time on the field, as redshirt-sophomore Stephon Robertson (Alexandria, Va./Edison) dislodged the ball from running back Keith McBridge and redshirt-freshman defensive tackle Anthony McDaniel (Upper Marlboro, Md./Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr.) fell on it to give JMU the ball on the W&M 24. Thorpe made a key run by freezing a Tribe defender for a 15-yard pickup to the Tribe 11. From there, three plays later, the Dukes got in the end zone on a bootleg pitch to redshirt-sophomore running back Dae'Quan Scott (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee), who outran three Tribe defenders to the left corner. Starke hit the point after and the lead was back to 10 at 17-7 with just under 14 minutes left to play.
Another JMU drive chewed up yardage and time on the clock, as the Dukes went 60 yards in 12 plays and taking more than seven minutes off the clock. W&M's defense held JMU out of the end zone bdut Starke added a 34-yarder and the margin grew to 20-7 JMU with 4:17 remaining in the game.
William & Mary would not give up though, getting on the board one last time with a late 12-play, 79-yard drive. Graham connected with tight end Alex Gottlieb in the flat and he scored from 10 yards out to cut it back to 20-17. The Tribe then went for the onside kick but redshirt-freshman wide receiver Daniel Brown (Windsor, Va./Isle of Wright) skied for the ball and came down with it safely. The Dukes got one first down to run out the clock and seal the win.
JMU outgained W&M 340-252, with 271 of the Dukes' yards coming via the ground game while the defense limited William & Mary to just 37 yards on the ground in 34 carries.. Madison held a significant advantage in time of possession, holding on to the ball 35:16 as compared to the Tribe's 24:44.
Scott posted his third-consecutive 100-yard rushing game, with 26 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown, while Thorpe had a career-high 81 yards on 14 carries. Latney also was effective, carrying it nine times for 66 yards, a 7.3 yards per carry average. Thorpe was also 3-for-4 for 69 yards and one touchdown through the air. Redshirt-senior defensive tackle Lamar Middleton (Newark, N.J./Shabazz (Syracuse) had eight tackles and 2.0 sacks to lead the Dukes, while Robertson added six tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two pass breakups in the victory.
Grimes led the Tribe rushing with 23 carries for 70 yards, while Graham went 14-for-26 for 215 yards and two scores. Mangas led the receivers with six catches for 102 yards and one score.
The Dukes return home for three straight games, starting with the Homecoming clash with Richmond on Sat., Oct. 1. Kickoff at Bridgeforth Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m., with the game to be televised on the CAA Television package on Comcast.