HARRISONBURG, VA (WWBT) - Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe drove James Madison 79 yards with 3:21 remaining, capped by a nine-yard touchdown scramble with 1:24 on the clock to lead JMU to a 13-10 comeback win over Towson on Saturday afternoon.
Head Coach Mickey Matthews picked up his 100th career win as JMU moved to 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association and 4-1 overall. Towson dropped to 1-1 in conference play and 2-3 overall.
The Varina product 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 after Towson's go-ahead touchdown on its own 21. 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.
JMU's defense had held Towson largely in check until the fourth quarter. The Tigers saw their first drive of the quarter end with a fumble at the JMU 30-yard line before then posting their only sustained drive of the game.
Towson took possession on its own eight yard line with 10:45 remaining and engineered a 14-play, 92-yard drive to eat up 7:24 off the game clock. The Tigers' only trip into the red zone culminated in a seven-yard rush by quarterback Grant Enders to the right corner to give Towson a 10-6 lead with 3:21 to go.
Thorpe's ensuing game-winning drive, the third of his career, was the highlight of his afternoon as he went 11-for-19 for 116 yards. Overall JMU gained 256 yards on 58 plays on the day. Scott rushed 22 times for 85 yards in his return from injury. Smith caught four passes for 37 yards while Barlow was the recipient on JMU's two longest plays of the day with two catches for 41 yards.
Enders finished 20-for-32 with two interceptions for Towson. He also rushed 10 times for 37 yards and the seven-yard touchdown. Terrance West rushed 28 times for 112 yards for the Tigers. Enders connected with eight different receivers with Spencer Wilkins, Tom Ryan and Dominique Booker each catching four.
James Madison won the turnover battle 3-0. The first interception led to JMU's second field goal and the second interception clinched the game, ending Towson's final drive. However, the Tigers held a significant advantage in time of possession, 35:38 to 24:22.
Stephon Robertson led the Dukes' defense with 15 tackles, a career high and the most by a JMU player this season. He topped his previous high set with 14 against Central Connecticut State.
The game was true to its billing as a matchup of the CAA's top two defenses. Out of the 573 total offensive yards in the game, 171 came on the two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. The teams combined to go 7-for-28 on third-down conversions.
The first score of the game occurred when redshirt junior Cameron Starke completed a career-long 49-yard field goal with 1:15 left in the first. JMU led 3-0 going into the second quarter.
The second quarter was similar to the first, with both teams being forced to exchange punts. An interception by Marlowe set up the Dukes' second scoring drive. With 3:52 left in the half, Starke completed a 21-yard field goal after a 52-yard drive. The field goal made the score 6-0 in JMU's favor.
With 11 seconds left in the second quarter Towson got on the board with its first points on a 40-yard field goal by D.J. Soven to make it 6-3 at the half.
JMU returns to action at home next Saturday, as it hosts William & Mary.