HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 25, 2010 - The #3 James Madison football team put together another solid defensive effort and managed enough offense to pull out a 10-3 victory over #21 Liberty, Sat., Sept. 25 at Bridgeforth Stadium. With the win, the Dukes moved to 3-0 for the first time under Head Coach Mickey Matthews, while the Flames fell to 2-2.
Liberty broke on the scoreboard first after starting on its own 3-yard line, marching down the field on an 18-play, 95-yard drive that went more than nine minutes. However, the Dukes' defense stiffened near the goal line and held the Flames out of the end zone, forcing a field goal attempt. Matt Bevins connected from 19 yards and the visitors had a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After JMU stuffed LU on a 4th-and-1 at the Madison 30 with 1:35 remaining in the half, the Dukes quickly moved it down the field in three plays. On the second play of the drive, senior quarterback Drew Dudzik (Clifton, Va./Centreville) got away from pressure and scampered 39 yards to the LU 25. On the next play, Dudzik found a wide open Griff Yancey (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) in the left corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Junior Dixon Wright (Crossnore, N.C./Avery County) connected on the point after to give JMU a 7-3 lead with just under a minute remaining in the half, which was the halftime margin.
After JMU went three-and-out to start the second half, the Flames put together a drive into Madison territory, eventually reaching the 30-yard line. There the defense again held, forcing a 47-yard attempt by Bevins. Again, the Dukes stepped up, as Taveion Cuffee (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial (Fork Union)) came around the right end of the Flames' line and blocked the kick, giving the ball back to the home squad on its own 41. The Dukes made it count, getting down inside Liberty's 10 before settling for a 22-yard field goal by Wright for a 10-3 lead with 6:23 to play in the third.
After the field goal, neither team could manage to get into the opposing territory, as the furthest was Liberty getting to the JMU 46 before being forced to punt. Madison put any chance of a comeback out of reach after Cuffee picked off Liberty quarterback Mike Brown at the Flames' 47 with just over two minutes to play and the JMU offense picked up the first down it needed to run out the clock.
JMU did outgain Liberty 283-264, but held the visitors to just 169 yards offense after LU's opening drive. The Dukes put together 205 yards of rushing on 41 attempts, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. The Flames were limited to just 61 yards on 32 rushes but put up 203 through the air, though they did not get a play longer that 28 yards in the contest. The Dukes did struggle on third-down conversions, going just 3-of-13, but limited the Flames to just 4-of-15 in the same situation. This was also the first time Liberty hasn't scored a touchdown since Sept. 16, 2006, a 10-3 loss to Towson in Head Coach Danny Rocco's third game at the helm.
Running back Scott Noble (Baltimore, Md./Franklin) came off the bench for the Dukes in the second half and carried the load, rushing for a game-high 89 yards on 17 carries, while Dudzik had nine rushes for 80 yards on the night. Dudzik was also just 6-for-14 for 78 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Yancey led Madison with two catches for 56 yards and the lone touchdown of the game.
Liberty was led on the ground by Brown with 26 yards on 11 carries, while he was also 21-for-32 for 203 passing yards and one interception. Summers led the Flames with game highs of eight receptions for 66 yards.
The Dukes will open Colonial Athletic Association action next week, hosting the #7 Delaware Blue Hens at Bridgeforth Stadium, Sat., Oct. 2. Kickoff for the televised game is set for 12:05 p.m.