WILLIAMSBURG, Va.-Unable to convert three William & Mary turnovers into points, No. 16/19 James Madison lost a Colonial Athletic Association road contest at William and Mary, 17–7, at Zable Stadium on Saturday night. With the loss, the Dukes fell to 5-3 and 2-2 in CAA play, while the Tribe improved also to 5-3 and 2-2.
Down 10-7 with 7:43 remaining in the fourth quarter and facing a 3rd and 6 on William and Mary’s 31 yard-line, Michael Birdsong threw an interception that was returned 90-yards by Jared Velasquez for a touchdown to put the Tribe ahead, 17-7 and the Dukes couldn’t recover.
Despite recovering three fumbles, including two in Tribe territory, the Dukes were unable to capitalize on good field position as they failed to score a single point off turnovers. JMU stalled on all three of their drives that started on William and Mary’s side of the field during the game.
JMU’s defense limited William and Mary to just 251 yards of offense but allowed William and Mary to convert 7 out of 15 (47%) of their third down attempts while the Dukes struggled to convert on third down offensively, only going 5-for-17 (29%).
In the third quarter with JMU leading 7-3, redshirt-senior linebacker Stephon Robertson forced a fumble after sacking Tribe quarterback Michael Graham and the ball was recovered by redshirt-senior defensive lineman Bingham Togia on the Tribe’s 23-yard line, his second fumble recovery of the game.
Unable to gain a first down, William and Mary blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt by Cameron Starke and recovered on their own 26-yard line. The Tribe then went on a 12-play, 77-yard drive led by backup quarterback Brent Caprio, in place of an injured Graham. The final result was a 28-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Tre McBride that put William and Mary ahead for good at 10-7.
The Dukes, who could only muster 90 yards rushing on 38 carries, leaned on the passing game and Michael Birdsong who finished the game 18-for-34 for 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
JMU took the lead 7-0 with 14:05 remaining in the second quarter after Birdsong found redshirt-senior running back Dae’Quan Scott for a screen pass as he went 40 yards untouched into the end zone. From there, the offense struggled.
After a string of three and outs by both teams, William and Mary got on the board with an 11-play, 49-yard drive that resulted in a 29-yard field goal by John Carpenter with 3:53 left in the first half and cut JMU’s lead to 7-3.
JMU marched down the field right before halftime but a fake field goal by the Dukes on 4th and 15 with 0:11 remaining was snuffed out by the Tribe and Quintin Hunter was stopped on a fake field goal attempt just short of the first down.
Scott led JMU with eigh catches for 81 yards and a TD but managed only 14 carries for 41 yards. Robertson led all tacklers with 15 stops, including 5.0 for loss, 1.0 sack, one forced fumble and one pass breakup.
The Dukes will return to Bridgeforth Stadium for homecoming on Nov. 2nd as they face play Villanova at 2:30 p.m.