HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 16, 2009 - The James Madison football team will close its season and honor the seniors in its program Saturday (Nov. 21) while hosting long-time rival Towson in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup.
Fourteen JMU players and several support personnel will be honored during ceremonies before the Dukes meet Towson in the 22nd meeting in a series that began before either moved to the scholarship level of competition.
JMU will take a 5-5 overall record and a 3-4 CAA mark into play Saturday and has won its last three games. Towson is 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the conference and has lost its last five games.
JMU is coming off a 17-14 win last Saturday (Nov. 14) at Massachusetts while Towson last week lost 49-7 to nationally ranked Villanova at home. The Dukes got a career-high 105-yard rushing effort from sophomore tailback Scott Noble (Baltimore, Md./Franklin) in its win at Massachusetts.
Saturday's game will be the final at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field as the facility is currently configured. Construction on an addition that will raise the facility's seating capacity to nearly 25,000 seat will begin during the coming weeks.
JMU and Towson first met in 1976, and they met every season from then through 1992 except for 1980.
JMU leads the series 15-5-1, has a 9-1 lead in games at JMU, has won the last five games overall and the last six at JMU, and won 58-27 last season at Towson.
The teams quit playing after the 1992 season when JMU began competing in the then-Yankee Conference and Towson moved from the scholarship level, and they resumed the series in 2004 when the Tigers began playing in the then-Atlantic 10 Conference. JMU has won each of the five meetings -- all to close regular-season play -- since the teams started meeting as league opponents.
JMU won 31-17 at Towson in 2004 to close a 9-2 season and claim a share of the Atlantic 10 title with a 7-1 mark. The Dukes went on to win that year's NCAA Division I-AA title. JMU sealed 2006, 2007 and 2008 playoff bids by winning its final regular-season games against the Tigers.
Tony LeZotte (2004-07) set JMU's record for longest interception return with a 100-yarder against Towson in 2005, and the Tigers' Tony Vinson set JMU opponent game records of 41 rushing attempts and 264 rushing yards in the team's 1992 game.
JMU completed the winningest regular season in its history with its 58-27 victory at Towson. The win raised the Dukes' overall record to 10-1 and their CAA mark to 8-0, was their 10th straight victory and gave them the CAA title. The out-right league crown was the first for JMU in Division I play.
JMU led 37-13 at halftime and 51-13 after three quarters, compiled 528 yards of total offense, had two players with three touchdowns, and had two 100-yard rushers.
Rodney Landers ran for 117 yards and three touchdowns and hit on nine of 12 passes for 86 yards and a score to lead JMU. Eugene Holloman ran for 131 yards and Griff Yancey for three scores.
Landers ran 29 yards for a touchdown on JMU's first series, scored from one yard early during the second quarter to give JMU a 20-7 advantage and had a four-yard touchdown run with 0:50 left in the first half for JMU's 37-13 lead. He also connected with Mike Caussin on a five-yard scoring pass during the second period.
The Tigers last week fell 49-7 at home to nationally ranked Villanova, suffering their fifth-straight loss. Last week's game was the third straight for Towson against a team ranked in the top five nationally.
Towson, which is playing for the first time this season under 1993 Towson graduate Rob Ambrose, averages 13.6 points and 251.0 yards of total offense per game (106.7 rushing, 144.3 passing) and allows averages of 35.9 points and 355.1 yards (175.9 rushing, 179.2 passing).
The Tigers have been hampered by injuries, particularly on offense. They've used 10 offensive line starters and lost quarterback starter Peter Athens to a knee injury in the sixth game. Towson averaged 18.0 points and 285.0 yards through six games and has averaged 7.0 points and 200.0 yards since.
Tremayne Dameron has run for a team-high 521 yards and six touchdowns, and the Tigers have had six players throw passes. David Newsom with 27 catches for 375 yards and five scores is the receiving leader.
Linebacker Danzel White is among the CAA's tackles leaders with 105.
Senior defensive end Arthur Moats (Portsmouth, Va./Churchland) has 11 quarterback sacks, one off Chris Morant's (1998-2000) JMU season record of 12 sacks, set in 1999 when he was the Atlantic 10 defensive player of the year. Moats this season has set JMU's season record for tackles for loss with 23.5. He is four sacks off Morant's JMU career mark of 33 sacks. Moats is among the 20 players on the "Watch List" for the Buck Buchanan Award that is presented to the nation's top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. He leads this season's JMU team with 83 tackles.
JMU during Saturday's game will be seeking to secure a winning season record for the sixth-straight year and complete its seventh-straight year with at least a .500 mark. JMU hadn't had as many as five-straight winning seasons or gone as many as six years with at least a .500 mark before its recent successful period.
Senior cornerback Scotty McGee (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) has six career kick returns for scores, one off the NCAA FCS career mark. He is tied for JMU's career marks for punt returns for touchdown and kickoff returns for scores (three of each). McGee has a career kickoff return average of 30.1 yards, easily better than JMU's No. 2 career mark of 28.1 yards by Dwight Robinson (1991-94).
Senior tight end Mike Caussin (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) has 934 career receiving yards and needs 66 yards on receptions to become the 18th JMU player and the second Dukes tight end to reach the 1,000-yard career receiving yards plateau.
Quarterback Justin Thorpe (Richmond, Va./Varina) this season has a JMU freshman-quarterback-record 622 rushing yards. He is 69 yards shy of Warren Marshall's (1982-86) No. 2 overall season rushing yards mark (691) by a JMU freshman.
JMU is allowing an average of 289.8 yards per game of total offense this season, a mark it has bettered only three times since 1988 (284.8 in 2000, 287.8 in 2005, 280.4 in 2006). JMU allowed fewer than 300 yards per game for six straight years from 1985-90 -- 284.3 in 1985, 283.9 in 1986, 291.7 in 1987, 281.0 in 1988, 290.4 in 1989, and 291.8 in 1990. The Dukes' 9-0-1 Division II team in 1975 allowed an average of 270.0 yards per game.
JMU has a 50-15 home record under Coach Mickey Matthews with eight of the losses coming during the 2001 and 2002 seasons when the Dukes were 7-16 overall. The Dukes are 35-7 at home since the beginning of the 2003 season.