HARRISONBURG, VA, Sept. 14, 2013 – Redshirt-senior Dae'Quan Scott posted his 15th career 100-yard rushing game, including 137 yards and two scores in the second half, to lead the No. 17 James Madison Dukes to a 24-20 come-from-behind victory over Saint Francis at Bridgeforth Stadium Saturday night. The Dukes improved to 2-1 on the year, while the Red Flash fell to 0-2.
Scott ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries on the night, opening up the 2013 season with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong was 10-of-23 for 145 yards and one touchdown. Redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson led the defensive effort with 14 tackles, including two sacks. Junior defensive end Sage Harold also was a standout, making seven tackles including three sacks and a forced fumble.
Saint Francis quarterbacks Capri Thompson and Max Ward were a combined 11-of-20 for 177 yards and a touchdown, while running back Kyle Harbridge ran 25 times for 100 yards and one score.
Trailing 14-3, the Madison offense got things back in order on its final two drives of the third quarter. A 31-yard catch by freshman wide receiver Rashard Davis put the Dukes in business at the SFU 18. Four plays later, Birdsong capped off the 8-play, 72-yard march with an 11-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Marquis Woodyard, cutting the deficit to 14-10 with under four minutes to go in the third quarter.
On its next possession, James Madison again put points on the board, going 54 yards in just five plays. On 2nd-and-9 from the Saint Francis 24, Scott took the handoff, avoided several would-be tacklers and scampered into the end zone to give the Dukes their first lead of the game at 17-14 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
Birdsong threw an interception on JMU’s first possession of the fourth quarter and Saint Francis capitalized on it for points. The Red Flash got the ball on the JMU 33 but could only get five yards and the Madison defense stonewalled them. Kicker Lance Geesey hit from 45 yards out to knot the game at 24 with just under 10 minutes to play.
The Dukes had their own answer by putting together another solid drive, this time covering 75 yards in eight plays. Again, Scott found a way to finish it off, this time going around the left side, picking up a couple of key blocks and finding the end zone from 22 yards out for a 24-17 JMU advantage with 7:49 to go.
SFU came back on its next drive and went 51 yards in eight plays before the JMU defense put the breaks on for them. This time, Geesey converted from farther out, nailing a 47-yard field goal to make it 24-20 with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter. St. Francis got the ball back for one last drive with 1:04 remaining in the game, but the Dukes defense held strong by getting a sack and three incompletions to end the final threat and seal the win.
To start the game, the visitors received and struck quickly, scoring on the very first play of the game as quarterback Terell Smith threw to wide receiver Max Ward for a 72-yard touchdown that put Red Flash up 7-0 seconds into the game.
That was the only points of the half until late in the second quarter as the Dukes’ offense got off to a slow start and JMU’s defense put the brakes on for Saint Francis. With 5:46 to go in the second quarter, James Madison developed a good drive, lasting 11 plays and 69 yards, including Birdsong connecting with redshirt-junior Daniel Brown for a 52-yard completion on 3rd-and-23. The end result was a 21-yard field goal by redshirt senior Cameron Starke, making it 7-3 at the halftime break.
However, Saint Francis tacked on to the lead on its first drive of the second half. Running back Kyle Harbridge ran for a 50-yard touchdown that increased the Red Flash lead 14-3 less than three minutes ino the second half.
James Madison hosts Charlotte (2-1) next Saturday in its final non-conference game of the regular season. Kickoff at Bridgeforth Stadium is set for 6 p.m.