Behind a stingy defense, redshirt junior Dae'Quan Scott's third straight 100-yard rushing game, and a stellar performance from Varina graduate Justin Thorpe, James Madison put together a complete game in a 31-7 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Maine Saturday. The Dukes improve to 7-2 and 5-1 in CAA play, while Black Bears fall to 3-6 and 2-4 in the league.
The Black Bears only managed 104 total yards and three turnovers, including 32 yards on 25 plays in the first half and two interceptions, only crossing into JMU territory twice in the entire game, both times to the Madison 48. On the other hand, JMU had 476 yards of total offense, including 314 rushing yards, held the ball for almost 15 more minutes than the Black Bears and converted 11-of-20 third-down opportunities.
Scott put together 121 yards and one touchdowns on 23 carries for his fourth 100-yard game of the year and 12th of his career, moving into 11th on the all-time rushing list for JMU with 2,206 yards. Coming in off the bench, redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe took over and had 111 yards rushing and a pair of scores on 16 carries, the second time this year the Dukes have had two 100-yard rushers in a game. Thorpe was also 9-for-12 for 108 yards and one touchdown through the air, hitting redshirt senior tight end Brian Barlow for four completions, 79 yards and one touchdown. Redshirt junior linebacker Stephon Robertson led the defense with seven tackles and one interception.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Dukes put together a drive, marching from their own 14 to the Maine 13 before the drive stalled. Cameron Starke completed the 17-play, 71-yard drive by hitting the 30-yard field goal through a head/cross wind, and the Dukes led 3-0 with 13:10 to go in the second quarter.
After a failed 4th-and-1 at the UM 1, Madison got the ball back on the next play as senior safety Jakarie Jackson deflected a pass and redshirt junior linebacker Stephon Robertson made a diving interception, the second of his career, to give JMU the ball back at the Maine 24. From there, Thorpe put the Dukes back on the board with a 9-yard scramble around the left side and JMU led 10-0 with 3:46 to go in the first half.
It didn't take long for JMU to get on the board after getting the second-half kickoff in good field position at the Dukes' 40 after Ryan Smith's 31-yard return. Thorpe went 33 yards on the first play to the Maine 27, and then Scott went around the right end, eluded a Black Bear tackler and went into the end zone standing up to put Madison up 17-0 just 29 seconds into the third quarter.
JMU was back in business after Smith's second interception of the game, with the Dukes getting the ball at the Maine 48. On 3rd-and-6 from the 44, Thorpe made a play-action fake and threw a perfect strike to a streaking Barlow for a 44-yard touchdown. It was Barlow's second touchdown of his career and gave Madison a 24-0 lead with 8:43 to go in the third quarter.
Madison sealed the game away midway through the fourth quarter with its 15-play, 80-yard march over 7:40 to drain the clock. After a successful fake of a field goal gave the Dukes the ball on the UM 8, Thorpe went around the left side of the line for an 8-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
Maine's only score came late in the game, as a fumble was recovered and returned 67 yards by Jamal Clay with 30 seconds to play in the contest.
JMU will play its final regular-season road game next Saturday, Nov. 10, when it travels to Villanova for another key CAA matchup. Kickoff at Villanova Stadium is set for 1:00pm.
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