Wrapping Up the 2013 Season On the Road: James Madison will conclude the 2013 schedule today by traveling to Towson, Md., to take on the Towson Tigers. The game is nationally televised on NBC Sports Network, with Todd Harris on play-by-play and Anthony Herron is the analyst.
The Coaches: James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews (West Texas State, ‘76) is in his 15th season at JMU and as a head coach overall with a 109-70 record.
Towson Head Coach Rob Ambrose (Towson, ’93) is in his fifth year of coaching the Tigers, with a 28-28 mark, and sixth season overall, sporting a 31-35 record.
History With Towson: This will be the 25th time that the two schools have met on the playing field, with Madison holding a commanding 18-5-1 margin, including 7-4-1 at Towson. JMU has won the last eight meetings between the two programs, including last year's 13-10 thriller at Bridgeforth Stadium and a 17-13 victory at Unitas Stadium in 2010.
Towson - JMU leads 18-5-1
(Home 11-1, Away 7-4-1)
Date Location W/L Score
9/18/76 Home W 28-26
9/17/77 Away L 7-13
9/16/78 Home W 21-14
9/15/79 Away L 8-18
11/7/81 Home W 20- 7
11/20/82 Away W 42-24
11/19/83 Home L 3-10
11/17/84 Away W 24-14
11/23/85 Home W 13- 0
11/22/86 Away T 7- 7
10/31/87 Home W 21-19
10/29/88 Away L 6-34
10/14/89 Home W 41- 6
10/13/90 Away W 21-14
10/12/91 Home W 55-31
10/24/92 Away L 21-28
11/20/04 Away W 31-17
11/19/05 Home W 55-14
11/18/06 Away W 38- 3
11/17/07 Home W 23-13
11/22/08 Away W 58-27
11/21/09 Home W 43-12
10/9/10 Away W 17-13
10/6/12 Home W 13-10
Dukes After A Loss Under Matthews: In its 14-plus seasons under current Head Coach Mickey Matthews, James Madison has a 33-26 record in games after a loss (other than season finale losses). However, that record takes a better turn starting in the 2004 season, as the Dukes are an improved 21-11 in those games after a loss. Also, JMU has only had five multiple-game losing streaks since 2004, with the longest a four-game skid each in 2009 and 2010.
This season, JMU rebounded from its loss at Akron to pick up the win over Saint Francis, defeated UAlbany after the loss at Delaware Sept. 28 and most recently got the win over Villanova on Nov. 2 following the William & Mary loss. However, Madison has dropped its last two in a row, losing at New Hampshire and at home versus Stony Brook.
Putting Points on the Board Early: James Madison got off to solid starts in six of its 11 games this year. In those games, the Dukes punched the ball into the end zone on their first possession in five of the six and all with lengthy drives. Against Central Connecticut State, JMU went 75 yards in nine plays for the score, while at Akron, it took 14 plays to go 75 yards for the game’s first tally. However against Saint Francis Sept. 14, the Dukes did not find the end zone until the third quarter, eventually coming away with a 24-20 victory. In the win over Charlotte, JMU used its first possession to go 76 yards in 12 plays, capped off by redshirt-senior running back Dae’Quan Scott’s 9-yard touchdown run. The Dukes converted Stephon Robertson’s interception for a field goal at Delaware. In the first CAA game at home, JMU went 78 yards in just four plays for the first touchdown of the game against UAlbany. The Dukes marched 83 yards in nine plays before sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong plunged in from one yard out. However, Madison was unable to put points on the board with the first drive against William & Mary, Villanova or New Hampshire, though the Dukes scored on their second drive in the win over the Wildcats.
Getting the Sack Attack Going: With leadership from the defensive coaching staff, including the addition of defensive line coach Jeff Hanson, the Dukes’ defense has found itself in the opponent’s backfield more this year. Last year, JMU recorded 18 sacks and 60 tackles for loss. After not recording a sack in the opener, Madison now has already surpassed that total with 38 sacks through 11 games (seventh nationally) and has posted 76 total tackles for loss on the season.
Ranking High In the FCS Action: JMU finds itself among the leaders in the nation in various statistical categories in FCS play. Defensively, Madison ranks first in the CAA and seventh in FCS in rushing defense at 97.5 yards per game, 33rd in scoring defense at 23.7 points per game and leading the league and fourth in FCS in sacks at 3.45 per contest.
Individually, redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson is also first in the CAA and second nationally at 11.8 tackles a contest, while redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele is fifth in the league and 46th in the nation at 9.0 tackles per contest. Robertson is also first in the conference and 18th in the country at 1.5 tackles for loss per game.
Offensively, redshirt-senior Dae’Quan Scott is fourth in the CAA and 39th nationally in rushing per game at 91.7 yards per game. He is also 36th in all-purpose yards at 125.45. Sophomore Michael Birdsong is fourth in the league and 26th nationally at 232.5 passing yards per game and 22nd in the FCS with 21 touchdown passes.
Robertson Showing His Excellence On Defense, Buchanan Award Next?: Redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson has shown a nose for the football throughout his collegiate career. A 2013 Sports Network First-Team Preseason All-American, Robertson has led the Dukes in tackles in seven of the 11 games this season. Recently, he tied his career-high with 16 tackles with 2.0 tackles for loss in the home win over Villanova, earning his third CAA Defensive Player of the Week honor this season. He currently leads the CAA and ranks second in FCS football at 11.8 tackles per game, while also leading the league and currently is 18th nationally in tackles for loss at 1.5 per game. He is 15 tackles better than any candidate currently on the list for the Buck Buchanan Award for the nation's top FCS defensive player.
In his career, Robertson has started in all 45 games played. He has amassed 434 career tackles (68 tackles ahead of the next player on the list), an average of 9.64 tackles per game, despite being targeted as a threat by every opposing offense. That ranks him first on the NCAA FCS active career chart and now fifth in JMU career list, having just passed Dean McCullough (1983-86) at 427, with Woody Bergeria (1974-77) next at 438. NFL standout Charles Haley (1982-85) is the all-time leader at 506. Robertson also has 25 career games with double-digit tackles, including eight of 11 games this season.
Robertson’s National FCS Season Ranks
Category Rank Total
Tackles Per Game 2nd 11.8 (130 on season)
Tackles For Loss/Game 18th 1.5 (15.5 on season)
Robertson’s Current FCS National Active Player Career Ranks
Category Rank Total
Total Tackles 1st 434
Total Solo Tackles 1st 190
Total Assisted Tackles 1st 244
Tackles Per Game 6th 9.64
Tackler For Loss/Game 28th 0.96 (43.0 for career)
Solo Tackles For Loss 15th 30
Assisted Tackles For Loss t-1st 26
Birdsong Moves Into Elite JMU Group: Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong has joined a choice group of players at JMU, as through his first 10 games, he posted just the fifth 2,000-yard passing season in JMU history. After his 355-yard performance against Stony Brook, Birdsong currently has 2,558 yards, which is now the top single season in JMU history, surpassing Mike Cawley’s 2,459 yards in 1995. Cawley (1994 and 1995) and Justin Rascati (2004 and 2006) each accomplished the 2000-yard seson twice. He is also tied for the all-time single-season lead in touchdown passes with 21 with Rodney Landers (2008). He also became the first quarterback in JMU history with more than 200 pass completions in a season, a mark currently at 207.
He made his mark in several categories with his performance against Stony Brook, Nov. 16. His five touchdown passes are a school record, while his 355 yards of passing are the third-most in school history.
Birdsong has also made his way on to the top group in career passing yards, already moving into ninth with 3,036, trailing Rodney Landers (2005-08) with 3,288. Mike Cawley (1993-95) is the JMU career leader at 6,482 passing yards. He also ranks ninth in career pass completions with 248, eighth with 414 pass attempts, and tied for sixth with 25 touchdown passes.
Birdsong’s Single Season Rankings, JMU Leaders
Passing Yards 2,558 1st 2nd - Mike Cawley (1995), 2,459
Pass Attempts 337 2nd Mike Cawley (1995), 361
Pass Completions 207 1st 2nd - Mike Cawley (1995), 196
Touchdown Passes 21 t-1st Rodney Landers (2008), 21
Hunter Sets New Receiving Standard For Dukes: Redshirt-senior wide receiver Quintin Hunter set a new season standard for James Madison in making the catch. Hunter had career-bests of seven catches, 139 yards and two touchdowns at New Hampshire. His 139 receiving yards are the most this season, the first 100-yard receiving game for the Dukes in 2013 and the first for Hunter in his career. It was also the first time he has had multiple touchdown catches in a game in his career.
Brown Shows His Catches Count: Redshirt-junior Daniel Brown has made his presence felt this season. After missing the opening game due to injury, Brown currently leads the Dukes with 39 catches for 620 yards and eight touchdowns. He currently ranks eighth in the league at 62.0 receiving yards per game. Against UAlbany, Brown had three touchdown catches, tying a school and stadium single-game record. His 98 yards on five catches at Delaware is a personal career best.
His eight touchdowns on the season are tied for the second-best single season in school history with David McLeod (1991) and L.C. Baker (2006).
Snow Earns CoSIDA Academic All-District Honors: Redshirt-senior Tyler Snow was named to the Capital One/College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District First Team, announced by the organization. He is the second Duke ever to earn this particular honor, joining Matt Magerko in 2005.
Snow had a 3.54 in earning his bachelor’s degree in history and currently has a 4.0 in his master’s work in education. In nine games this season, Snow currently ranks seventh for JMU and second among defensive linemen with 42 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, one fumble recovery and seven quarterback hurries in eight games played. He had a season-high nine tackles in the win over Charlotte and has posted four or more tackles in six of the eight games played.
With the honor, he moves on to the ballot for Academic All-American, which will be voted on in the next several weeks and announced later this month.
Last 10 Years Versus the CAA: For the last nine-plus seasons starting in 2004, James Madison has been among the top CAA teams. During that time span, the Dukes have put together a 53-26 conference mark and trail New Hampshire by three games. Overall JMU is 82-39 in that span, surpassed only by New Hampshire’s 87-37 mark. Additionally, Madison is the only school in this group to have at least a .500 overall record in each year since 2003.
CAA Records 2004-Pres. Conf. Overall
New Hampshire 56-23 87-37
James Madison 53-26 82-39
Villanova 45-34 71-48
Richmond 45-32 75-47
Maine 43-36 61-53
Delaware 41-38 72-49
William & Mary 38-41 63-54
Towson 28-51 50-62
Rhode Island 17-64 30-62
NOTE: During this time period until the 2010 season, CAA teams each season played five other teams in their division and three of the six teams in the other division for an eight-game league slate. With the dropping of football by two CAA schools prior to 2010, the league eliminated the divisions and are one unified standings. After the 2011 season, Massachusetts moved up to the FBS level.
All-Time JMU vs. CAA Teams
(* Former league teams, Includes when not CAA members)
Opponent Overall Met
Albany 1-0 2013
Boston University* 5-1-0 1997
Connecticut* 4-1-0 1999
Delaware 8-13-0 2013
Georgia State 1-0-0 2012
Hofstra* 6-3-0 2009
Maine 11-5-0 2012
Massachusetts* 7-8-1 2011
New Hampshire 7-8-0 2013
Northeastern* 12-8-0 2007
Old Dominion 0-2-0 2012
Rhode Island 8-3-0 2012
Richmond 14-17-0 2013
Stony Brook 0-1-0 2013
Towson 18-5-1 2012
Villanova 12-10-0 2013
William & Mary 20-16-0 2013
Totals 134-101-2 (.571)
Last Year's Meeting - Dukes Pull Out Thriller In Final Minutes: Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe drove #5 James Madison 79 yards with 3:21 remaining, capped by a nine-yard touchdown scramble with 1:24 on the clock to post a comeback win, 13-10, over #12 Towson on a Family Weekend Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field. Head coach Mickey Matthews picked up his 100th career win.
Thorpe was 6-for-6 passing on the Dukes' final eight-play scoring drive, registering 60 of his 116 passing yards on the day. JMU took possession on its own 21 after Towson's go-ahead touchdown. Thorpe opened the drive hitting five straight passes, including two each to sophomore DeAndre Smith and redshirt junior Dae'Quan Scott, to push the Dukes to the 25-yard line.
Scott rushed 10 yards to the 15 and Thorpe hit Smith again to push the Dukes inside the 10. After dropping back to pass on the eighth play, Thorpe scrambled right and dodged several defenders to scoot nine yards into the end zone for JMU's only touchdown of the day.
Towson took possession with 1:24 remaining and all three timeouts but saw its drive ended by redshirt sophomore Dean Marlowe's interception with 0:44 seconds left, his second pick of the day. (Complete recap on page 22.)
Last Time Out - Dukes Comeback Falls Short Against Stony Brook: No. 25 James Madison football’s comeback attempt fell short in the final home game of the season as the Dukes dropped a 41-38 loss to Stony Brook, Nov. 16.
Redshirt senior Dae’Quan Scott eclipsed the 1,000-yard single-season rushing mark, currently at 1,044 yards. Sophomore Michael Birdsong set a JMU single-season passing record at 2,558 yards, surpassing Mike Cawley’s record of 2,459 yards from 1995. He also tied the school record with 21 touchdowns in a season, also held by Cawley.
Stony Brook took control of the game in the first half, putting up a season-high 31 points to take a 31-17 halftime lead. The scoring was sparked by the second play of the Seawolves’ opening drive as quarterback Lyle Negron threw a 75 yard touchdown pass to Adrian Coxson to quickly go up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
Trailing 38-17 early in the second half, JMU fought back two possessions later with a 54-yard drive. This time, Birdsong found wide receiver Arlandis Harvey for an 11-yard strike in the end zone to make it 38-24.
SBU got a 20-yard field goal from Ball with 13:17 left in the game to go up 41-24, which was the eventual game winner. JMU kept fighting as Birdsong hit two more touchdown passes, both to wide receiver Daniel Brown from 32 and 10 yards out, to make it 41-38 with just under five minutes to play in the game. However, the Dukes were unable to get the ball back from the visitors in those final minutes, including a fourth-down conversion by the Seawolves with two minutes to go.
Steele On Jerry Rice Award Watch List: Redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele is currently one of the top candidates on the Jerry Rice Award Watch List for the most outstanding freshman in Division I FCS this season, presented by The Sports Network .
A native of Front Royal, Va., Steele was just named the Sports Network National Freshman of the Week and Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week after posting a career-high 18 tackles, including 13 solo stops in a 40-13 win over UAlbany on Saturday. His 13 solo tackles tie the most by any JMU player since 1999 and the 18 total tackles are the second-highest single-game output in the CAA this season.
Steele has started all 11 games for the Dukes and currently ranks second on the team, fourth in the CAA and 46th in the nation at 9.0 tackles per contest, having recorded 99 total tackles, 40 solos, 5.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles. His 90 tackles is fourth among any of the award list candidates on the defensive side of the ball.
The Jerry Rice Award, which honors the national freshman of the year in FCS, was first given in 2011 and is named after Division I-AA All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Jerry Rice, who played for Mississippi Valley State from 1980-1984. The award is voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and others following the regular season and the winner will be invited to the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 16.
Robertson and Steele the CAA’s One-Two Defensive Punch: Redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson and redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele have not only given the JMU defense a one-two punch but are proving it in the league. Robertson currently is second in the nation at 11.8 tackles per game with Steele fourth in the CAA at 9.0 stops a contest. Steele’s 18 tackles were a league season high until last week, while Robertson now has 25 double-digit tackle games in his career after posting 11 tackles last week against Stony Brook.
Scott Eclipses Milestones: Redshirt-senior running back Dae’Quan Scott continues to churn out the yards and points in his final season at JMU. Against UAlbany, Scott had a pair of touchdowns and is now the Dukes’ all-time scoring leader at 252 points, passing kicker David Rabil (2003-06) at 231 points. The Staunton, Va., native also went over the 3,000-yard career rushing mark against the Great Danes, as he is currently at 3,301, career yards, currently eighth among active FCS players. He also now has tied Eriq Williams with 32 career rushing touchdowns at JMU.
For the season, Scott has 1,009 yards (15th 1,000-yard season in school history) and eight rushing touchdowns on 226 carries, with his 91.7 yards per game ranking fourth in the league and 39th in FCS football. He also is 67th in scoring nationally at 6.5 points per game.
Scott Chewing Up Ground: Redshirt-senior running back Dae’Quan Scott continues to eat up yardage for the Dukes in his career. Scott has been a workhorse for JMU this season, posting 100-yard rushing games in each of the first four contests, giving him 16 for his career. Scott recorded a career-high 35 carries for 176 yards and two scores in the rain-drenched victory over Charlotte, Sept. 21. On Sept. 14, he had a then career-high 32 carries for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over visiting Saint Francis. This performance came on the heels of 107 yards and one score at Akron and 120 yards in the season opening victory against Central Connecticut State. He also had a pair of punt returns for 63 yards, including a 54-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter against Central Connecticut State. It was just the 15th JMU punt return touchdown in stadium history.
Currently, Scott is fourth in the CAA and 39th nationally in rushing per game with 91.7 yards a contest. He also ranks 36th in all-purpose yards at 125.45 yards per game.
Scott became just the third rusher in school history to reach the 3,000-yard mark and is currently third at 3,301. He trails Rodney Landers (2005-08) in second at 3,477 yards. Former NFL player and JMU Hall of Famer Warren Marshall (1982-86) holds the all-time rushing lead at JMU with 4,168 yards.
Scott also recently surpassed Marshall for the career touchdown lead with his 35th score against Saint Francis, a mark that now stands at 42. He also is now the all-time leader in career scoring with 252 points, just passing David Rabil (2003-06) at 231 points with his two touchdowns against UAlbany, Oct. 5. In addition, the Staunton, Va., native is currently tied for first in career rushing touchdowns with quarterback Eriq Williams (1989-92) at 32 rushing scores.
Among the current FCS active career leaders, Scott is tied for fourth in points (252), eighth in rushes (666), ninth in yards (3,301), tied for seventh in total touchdowns (42), 10th in all-purpose yards (4,596), tied for 11th in rushing touchdowns (32) and 26th in gain per rush (4.9 ypr).
Smith Was Coming Into His Own As a Wide Receiver Until...: Junior DeAndre’ Smith is continuing to show his growth with Madison, tallying his best game of his career at Richmond, Oct. 20, 2012. Smith had six receptions for career highs of 122 yards and two touchdowns. This year, Smith was the top receiving returner with 323 yards last year on 29 catches (second among returners) and two scores.
This season, Smith has 10 catches for 126 yards with a long of 30. However, he missed part of two and a half gamesdue to an ankle injury. He returned in the CAA opener at Delaware, making four catches for 41 yards.
However, Smith moved over to defensive back for the Richmond game and has remained there. In his four games on the defensive side, he has 16 tackles (11 of them solo) and one interception, an 86-yard touchdown return versus Villanova.
Starke Moving Up the Charts: Senior kicker Cameron Starke is continuing to move up the career charts among JMU’s kickers: His 36 career field goals just passed former NFL kicker Scott Norwood (1978-81) and David Rabil (2003-06) for second all-time, with the previous mark at 32. John Coursey (1993-96) holds the all-time record with 39.
Starke is almost automatic as well when the spot is inside the 30-yard line, as he has hit on 29-of-34 field goal attempts from 39 yards or less in his career, with the only misses being his first career attempt at North Carolina and a questionable call on a 36-yard attempt at Eastern Kentucky, both in 2011, as well as a 33-yarder at Delaware, at William & Mary and last week at New Hampshire. The miss at Delaware snapped a 12-consecutive field goal made streak of inside of 40 yards.
He is also 102-of-106 in his career in point after attempts, giving him 210 career points at JMU, ranking fourth all-time just having passed Warren Marshall (1982-86) at 208. John Coursey (1993-96) is currently third at 220.
This season he is fifth in the CAA and 28th nationally at 1.0 field goals per game and sixth in the league and 44th in FCS at 73.3% on his field goal attempts.
Among the FCS active career leaders, Starke is tied for 11th in field goal percentage (75.0), 14th in field goals (36), 21st in extra points made (102) and 22nd in extra point attempts (106).
FIELD GOALS FGM-A Pct 01-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 Lg Blk
2011 15-19 78.9 0-0 6-7 7-8 2-3 0-1 44 1
2012 10-14 71.4 1-1 3-3 3-3 3-7 0-0 49 0
2013 11-15 71.4 1-1 5-5 2-5 3-4 0-0 45 1
Career 36-48 75.0 2-2 14-15 12-16 8-14 0-1 49 1
Birdsong Made History at Quarterback: Sophomore Michael Birdsong came into camp as the starting signal caller and his overall performance in 2013 would do nothing to change that situation. Birdsong was 10-for-18 for 115 yards and one touchdown through the air and also had nine carries for 55 yards and a pair of scores on the ground in the victory over Central Connecticut State. He then followed it up with a 29-for-42, 310 yards and three touchdown performance at Akron, Sept. 7. It was his first 200-yard or more passing game in his career and the ninth-best performance in school history. Most recently, Birdsong was 23-for-34 for 355 yards, a school-record five touchdowns and two interceptions against Stony Brook. He currently ranks fourth in the CAA at 232.5 yards per game through the air and seventh in passing efficiency at 138.0.
Birdsong made his first collegiate start in the 2012 Georgia State game, leading the Dukes to a victory. Birdsong was 11-for-23 for 119 yards and one touchdown through the air while carrying the ball six times for 43 yards.
The start made him the first true freshman to start at the JMU signal caller slot since Head Coach Mickey Matthews' fourth season as head man of the Dukes in 2002. That year, Jayson Cooke started the season finale at Northeastern on Nov. 23, 2002, a game won by the Huskies 41-10. Other true freshman starters during Matthews' tenure have been current wide receivers coach Clayton Matthews (9/22/01) and Mike Connelly (10/23/99).
Spreading the Ball Around the Wide Side of the Fields: JMU is doing an effective job of spreading the ball around to various receivers in the passing game. In the season opener against Central Connecticut State, quarterback Michael Birdsong connected on 10 completions in the win. The bigger part was that eight different players had at least one catch, with two getting two receptions each. In the contest at Akron, eight different Dukes made receptions, with all but one having at least three catches on the day. Overall, 15 players have had catches this season for the Dukes, matching last year's total on Birdsong's reception from Quintin Hunter against VillanovaBirdsong Making His Aerial Mark: Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong etched his name in the record books with his performance at Akron, Sept. 7. Birdsong paced the JMU offense to almost 500 yards of total offense in nearly leading JMU to rally at FBS Akron. All career bests, the 310 passing yards are the 10th-best single game in school history, the 42 attempts are the seventh most and the 29 completions are the third-best mark in program history. The three touchdown passes also tied for the fifth-best JMU game ever and the most since Justin Thorpe had three against Towson in 2009.
Home Is Where the Heart (And the Victories) Are: The Dukes are tough to beat at Bridgeforth Stadium under Head Coach Mickey Matthews. In his 14-plus years at the helm, Matthews has led his squad to a solid 69-21 (.767) record in Harrisonburg. What makes that more impressive is that eight of the losses occurred during a two-year span (2001-02) when the Dukes had a combined overall record of 7-16 (JMU was 2-9 in 2001 and 5-7 in 2002). JMU has had 11 straight .500 or better seasons at home , going 6-1 this season.
Matthews’ JMU Home Mark
Year Overall Conf.
1999 5-0 4-0
2000 6-0 4-0
2001 1-4 0-4
2002 3-4 2-3
2003 5-1 3-1
2004 5-1 3-1
2005 5-1 3-1
2006 5-0 4-0
2007 5-1 3-1
2008 8-1 4-0
2009 3-2 2-2
2010 3-3 1-3
2011 4-1 3-1
2012 5-1 3-1
2013 6-1 3-1
Totals 69-21 42-19
Robertson Garners CAA Weekly Honors: James Madison redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson was named Colonial Athletic Association Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his play at William & Mary, the league announced Oct. 28. It is the third time this year that Robertson has garnered the award as he shard the award with Towson’s Telvion Clark.
Robertson was everywhere in what was a career day for the senior standout. The Buck Buchanan Watch Lister turned in a game-high 15 tackles, including a career-high 5.0 for loss and a sack, to go with a forced fumble and a pass breakup as he paced a Dukes defense that held William & Mary to just 250 yards of total offense on Saturday. Robertson has now recorded double-digit tackles in six of JMU’s eight games this season and is tied for seventh in the program annals with 399 for his career.National Rankings: JMU came into the 2013 season with high expectations from both the coaches and the media, according to their respective polls. The Dukes were ranked 15th in the FCS Coaches Preseason poll, while being in the No. 19 slot in The Sports Network poll, which is voted on by sports information directors, media members, broadcasters and other dignitaries. After the 12th week of play, Madison is receiving votes in both the Coaches Poll and The Sports Network Poll.
Simmons, Williams Garner CAA Player of the Week Awards: James Madison's Dejor Simmons and Kwe'shon Williams were honored as Colonial Athletic Association Football Players of the Week, the league announced Oct. 14. Simmons was recognized as the Special Teams Player of the Week, while Williams earned Rookie of the Week honors.
A redshirt junior, Simmons finished with a career-high 141 yards on three kickoff returns in Saturday's 38-31 win over in-state rival Richmond. The junior highlighted his stellar play on the second half's opening kickoff, which he returned a conference- and school-record tying 100 yards for his second collegiate score. The 100-yard return was just the second such return in program history and the team's first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2008.
Williams showed no signs of an injury that prevented him from playing the previous week, turning in a career day in JMU's win over the Spiders. The rookie finished with career highs with nine tackles, including four solo, and three pass breakups. Williams also came away with his third interception, which he returned 35 yards and that led to touchdown that gave the Dukes a 28-9 third-quarter advantage.
Arnone & Steele Earn CAA Weekly Honors, Steele Recognized Nationally: James Madison had two football players earn Colonial Athletic Association Football Player of the Week honors, as sophomore punter Conner Arnone was named Special Teams Player of the Week and redshirt-freshman linebacker Gage Steele earned Rookie of the Week honors. It is the first league honor for both. In addition, Steele was named as The Sports Network Freshman of the Week for his play against UAlbany, the first national honor for the linebacker.
Arnone had a stellar all-around day in the Dukes’ win over UAlbany, finishing with a 49.5-yard punt average on four punts that included a career-long 65-yarder. The sophomore also averaged 60.8 yards on eight kickoffs that featured three touchbacks in a special teams effort that forced the Great Danes to on average begin drives from their 27-yard line.
Steele broke open for a career day against the Great Danes, turning in an 18-tackle effort that leads the league through the opening six weeks of the season. The rookie racked up 13 solo stops and one sack in JMU’s dominant win, with four of his tackles ending Dane drives. His 18 tackles are the first 18-plus game since Justin Barnes had 19 against New Hampshire in 2007, while the 13 solos tie the highest since 1999 along with Pat Williams (vs. Towson in 2009) and Akeem Jordan (vs. Appalachian State in 2006). Steele’s showing highlighted a defensive unit that held UAlbany to just 81 rushing yards and five of 19 third-down conversions on Saturday.
The Road In the CAA Is Not Kind to the Dukes: To be the best, you have to beat the best and James Madison has too much of that on the road, according to the current polls. All four of JMU's road conference opponents are at least receiving votes, which started with Sept. 28's game at Delaware (RV). Also on the list are trips to William & Mary (Oct. 26 - RV), New Hampshire (Nov. 9 - #25) and Towson (Nov. 23 - #2/3). JMU is currently 0-4 on the road this season
JMU Picked Fifth In Preseason Poll: Madison was selected to finish fifth in the preseason poll, as chosen by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.
The Dukes were picked fifth overall in the preseason poll, despite having the second-most first-place votes with four. Villanova was picked to take home the league title, garnering 11 first-place votes, followed by Towson (three votes), New Hampshire (three votes), Richmond (one vote) and Madison. Delaware was picked sixth, followed by CAA-newcomer Stony Brook, Maine and William & Mary. The other CAA-newcomer Albany and Rhode Island round out the poll.
Robertson CAA Defensive Player of the Week Again: James Madison redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week, the league announced today. It is the second time this season and fourth in his career he has earned the honor.
The reigning CAA Football’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year picked up his second-consecutive weekly honor on the heels of a standout defensive effort against Delaware on Saturday. The senior turned in a career-high 16 tackles, including a career-best 4.5 for loss, in Newark. Robertson also came away with his third career interception in the loss, one that led to the first points of the game for JMU.
Moving the Ball and the Air: James Madison’s offense got the ball going through both the running game and passing attack at Akron, Sept. 7. The Dukes amassed 188 yards on the ground, led by senior running back Dae’Quan Scott’s 107 yards and one touchdown, while putting up 310 yards through the air for a total of 498 yards of total offense. Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong was 29-for-42 for 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception on the day. Scott also led all receivers with six catches, while junior wide receiver Daniel Brown led with 74 yards of receiving and one touchdown on three receptions.
Matthews Reaches the Century Mark: JMU Head Coach Mickey Matthews accomplished a historic milestone in his coaching career last season and continues to move up the charts this year. In his 15th season at the helm of the Dukes, Matthews earned his 100th career victory with a 13-10 win over then-No. 12 Towson, Oct. 6, 2012. He is currently 24th on the FCS career active victories list with 109 victories, tied with fellow CAA coach New Hampshire’s Sean McDonnell.
Preseason All-America Honors: James Madison’s Stephon Robertson and Dean Marlowe were named Preseason All-Americans by The Sports Network, the organization announced in August. Robertson was a first-team selection at linebacker, while Marlowe was on the second team at safety.
Scott, Reynolds Named CAA Players of the Week: James Madison’s Dae’Quan Scott and Taylor Reynolds were honored as the Colonial Athletic Association’s Special Teams Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, as announced by the league Sept. 2.
A senior return specialist and running back, Scott’s fifth conference weekly honor comes on the heels of a solid all-purpose performance in JMU’s convincing 38-14 win over Central Connecticut State. The senior finished the season-opener with 197 all-purpose yards, including a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown that represented the first such score for him and the 15th for the Dukes in Bridgeforth Stadium history. Scott would add 15 carries for 120 yards and a reception for 14 yards in the win.
Playing in not only his first collegiate contest but his first game on the defensive side of the ball after making the transition from quarterback to cornerback in the spring, Reynolds racked up six tackles to go with an impressive 51-yard interception return for a touchdown in JMU’s win over the Blue Devils Aug. 31. The rookie’s pick-6 was the Dukes’ first since their final game of the 2011 season.
Three Selected To Preseason All-CAA Squads: Senior linebacker Stephon Robertson was named the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and was one of three Dukes named to the preseason squad, announced at the CAA Football Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. Joining Robertson on the squad was junior safety Dean Marlowe and senior kicker Cameron Starke.
Matthews The Winningest: Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) became the all-time leader in victories among JMU football coaches Sept. 27, 2008 in a 24-10 victory at Maine. The win gave the then-10th-year Dukes coach a 68-45 JMU record. It is now at 108-67 overall, which currently ranks 24th among all active coaches in terms of winning percentage and victories.
Challace McMillin (1972-84), JMU’s first football coach, had a 67-56-1 record during 13 JMU seasons and held the program’s previous coaching victories record. McMillin has retired as a JMU kinesiology teaching staff member, but he continues to work with JMU athletic teams in a sports psychology role.
JMU’S COACHING RECORDS
Coach (Years) W-L Pct. NCAA
Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) 109-70 .612 6
Challace McMillin (1972-84) 67-56-1 .544 0
Joe Purzycki (1985-90) 34-30-2 .530 1
Rip Scherer (1991-94) 29-19 .604 2
Alex Wood (1995-98) 23-22 .511 1
* Challace McMillin’s listed coaching record at JMU does not include the program’s inaugural football season of 1972 when the team’s schedule did not include the minimum number of games to constitute an NCAA-recognized varsity football season. JMU’s 1972 team played five games against a mixture of college varsity, junior varsity and prep-school teams.
JMU UNDER MATTHEWS
Year Overall Conf.
1999 8-4 7-1 NCAA
2000 6-5 4-4
2001 2-9 0-9
2002 5-7 3-6
2003 6-6 4-5
2004 13-2 7-1 NCAA Title
2005 7-4 5-3
2006 9-3 7-1 NCAA
2007 8-4 6-2 NCAA
2008 12-2 8-0 NCAA
2009 6-5 4-4
2010 6-5 3-5
2011 8-5 5-3 NCAA
2012 7-4 5-3
2013 6-5 3-4
Totals 109-70 71-51
JMU Football History: The 2013 season is JMU’s 42nd season of football, its 40th varsity football season, its 35th season with football scholarship players and its 34th season competing at what is now the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, formerly Division I-AA.
JMU began football in 1972, moved to a recognized varsity schedule in 1974, first awarded scholarships for the 1979 season and moved to Division I-AA in 1980. JMU moved from Division III to Division in 1979 and to then-Division I-AA for the 1980 season.
JMU’s top seasons in addition to winning the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA championship (13-2) have been in 2008 when the Dukes reached the FCS semifinals as the playoffs’ top-seeded team and compiled a 12-2 record, 2007 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 2006 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1999 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1995 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1994 (10-3, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1991 (9-4, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1987 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1982 (8-3), 1978 (8-2, No. 9, Division III), and 1975 (9-0-1, College Division).
Dukes in the Show: JMU is well represented in the NFL on the 2013 rosters entering the season. The Dukes have three former players that were on opening day rosters for the 2013 season. Linebacker Akeem Jordan spent his first six years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and is starting this season at linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Starting his fourth season in the NFL is former defensive end turned linebacker Arthur Moats (Buffalo Bills), who is currently the starter at outside linebacker. Additionally, rookie offensive lineman Earl Watford is with the Arizona Cardinals. Former defensive end D.J. Bryant was on the practice squad with last year's World Champion Baltimore Ravens and opened the year on injured reserve for the Super Bowl champions.
Former Duke Haley Enshrined in College Football Hall of Fame: Former James Madison football All-American Charles Haley was enshrined in the College Football Hall Of Fame, July 15-16, 2011 in South Bend, Ind. He was the first ever player from a CAA school and sixth person overall (five previous were coaches) to be elected to the Hall.
Haley was a four year starter at JMU from 1982-85. He was a two-time All-American and a three-time Defensive MVP at Madison. As a senior at JMU, Haley was voted a 1985 Associated Press First-Team I-AA All-American and both the Richmond Touchdown Club and Roanoke Times & World News’ State Defensive Player of the Year. He leads JMU’s all-time tackles list with 506, including three seasons of more than 100 tackles, and his 22 tackles at Shippensburg during the 1983 season still ranks as the eighth-highest single-game total in JMU history. He also added three interceptions and 17 quarterback sacks to his total.
In 1986, after his senior season Haley was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, as he was the No. 96 pick overall, the highest ever in school history. The first ever JMU player to be drafted into the NFL, Haley went on to become the only player in the league’s history to win five Super Bowls, two with the 49ers and three with the Dallas Cowboys. He was also selected to five Pro Bowls during his career, as well as being a two-time First-Team All-Pro and 1990 NFC Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his professional career with 100.5 sacks, including a career-high 16 in 1990. He had eight fumble recoveries and scored one touchdown in the NFL. He retired in 1999 before becoming an assistant coach for the Detroit Lions.
In addition to the former Dukes currently active with professional football organizations, JMU's leading all-time performers include several other players who have enjoyed success in the NFL - placekicker Scott Norwood (1978-81), wide receiver Gary Clark (1980-83), defensive end Charles Haley (1982-85), linebacker Dion Foxx (1990-93), wide receiver Macey Brooks (1993-96), running back Curtis Keaton (1998-99), tight end Ed Perry (1993-96) and return specialist Delvin Joyce (1997-2000).
Norwood received All-Pro honors as a placekicker with the Buffalo Bills. Clark was All-Pro with the Washington Redskins and a member of two Super Bowl title teams and later played with the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. He was selected in the first round of the first United States Football League draft in 1984.
Haley was the first player to be a member of five Super Bowl title teams while playing with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. He was the first Duke to be a first-team Division I-AA All-America and the first Duke chosen in the NFL draft (San Francisco, 1986, fourth round). He is JMU's career tackles leader.
Foxx played with the Miami Dolphins. Brooks was with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
Keaton was with the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints after being the 1999 Atlantic 10 offensive player of the year when he ran for 1,719 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Perry was a tight end and long snapper with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs after being Miami's sixth-round 1997 draft pick and first-team All-Yankee Football Conference during each of his final three collegiate seasons.
Joyce was a return specialist for the New York Giants and New York Jets. He ended his career at JMU as the only player in Division I-AA history with 1,000 yards in each of the career statistical categories of rushing, receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns and as the all-time Division I-AA leader in punt return yards and combined kick return yards. He holds many of JMU's career kick return marks and is the program's all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 5,659.
Two other former Dukes saw extensive time during the 2007 preseason with NFL teams, including tailback Alvin Banks (2003-06) with the New York Jets and offensive lineman Corey Davis (2003-06) with the Buffalo Bills. Justin Rascati, JMU's starting quarterback from 2004-06, briefly was with the Chicago Bears. Former tight end Mike Caussin spent time with Buffalo Bills (active) and Jacksonville Jaguars (practice squad) last season.