HARRISONBURG, VA (WWBT) - In a key Colonial Athletic Association football matchup,Old Dominion rallied from a 21-10 halftime deficit to defeat James Madison at Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday evening. The defeat dropped the Dukes to 7-4 and 5-3 in CAA play, while the Monarchs improved to 10-1 and 7-1 in the league.
The Dukes offense was clicking in the first half to the tune of 217 total yards and three touchdowns. However, the offense was stifled by the Monarchs in the second half, managing only 94 total yards. ODU took advantage of excellent starting field position throughout the second half to score four times on 236 total yards.
ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke led the Monarchs comeback with 4 touchdowns in the second half and 357 total yards in the game. After throwing a third quarter interception, Heinicke responded by completing 12 consecutive passes and throwing for three touchdowns. '
ODU wide receiver Antonio Vaughan caught ten passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, while wide receiver Nick Mayers had three catches, including two touchdowns. Half back Tyree Lee was the team's leading rusher with 11 yards on seven carries.
Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe led the Madison attack, running 26 times for 85 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 10 of 17 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Tail back Dae'Quan Scott ran for 41 yards on 18 carries and had three receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Redshirt senior linebacker Jamie Veney finished with eight tackles including a sack to pace the defense. Redshirt senior safety Jakarie Jackson had two tackles and an interception. Old Dominion was led defensively by linebacker Caleb Taylor, with 11 tackles including 3 tackles for a loss. Linebacker Craig Wilkins added 10 tackles with 1.5 sacks.
JMU opened the game with consecutive touchdown drives, both culminating in rushing touchdowns by Thorpe. His leaping effort on a 9-yard QB keeper capped a 13-play, 73-yard drive that was kept alive after converting on 4th and inches from the JMU 49.
After an ODU field goal, Thorpe brought the Dukes down the field again with a 45-yard rush to the ODU 15. Five plays later, Thorpe punched it in on 3rd and goal from the 1-yard line for his second rushing touchdown of the game, giving JMU a 14-3 lead.
After forcing the Dukes to a 3-and-out to start the second quarter, the Monarchs got the ball with excellent field position at the JMU 48. Facing a long third down, the Monarchs threw a deep pass down the sideline and drew a defensive pass interference call on sophomore safety Dean Marlowe. ODU capitalized on the penalty and eventually scored when running back Colby Goodwyn rushed for a 5-yard touchdown, making it 14-10 with 10:18 to go in the second quarter.
Madison immediately responded on the next drive. Thorpe connected with a wide-open Scott downfield and Scott beat the safety in the open field for a 50-yard receiving touchdown. The 50-yard pass by Thorpe was JMU's longest pass play of the season.
The teams traded punts to open up the second half and ODU started its second drive from the JMU 41-yard line. Henicke led the Monarchs down the field in the ensuing drive, going 4-for-4 for 41 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mayers to make the score 21-17.
In the next Monarch drive, Heincke was intercepted by Jackson at the ODU 41 and returned to the ODU 22-yard line. With a short field, Thorpe led the Dukes to another score, ending with a 5-yard run by the fourth-year quarterback. It was his third rushing touchdown of the game, giving the Dukes a 28-17 lead.
The Monarchs answered immediately with a 59-yard touchdown strike to Vaughan, cutting the JMU lead to 28-24. The pass put Henicke over 4,000 yards passing for the season, making him the 18th quarterback in FCS history to throw for 4,000 yards.
After a JMU three-and-out, Heincke picked apart the Dukes defense for 43 yards on 6 straight completions. The drive resulted in a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Larry Pinkard to give ODU its first lead at 31-28 with 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
Another JMU three-and-out gave the Monarchs the ball again and Heincke delivered another perfect drive. He complete all four passes of the drive for 50 yards, ending with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mayers.
JMU's next drive brought the Dukes to the ODU 9-yard line when the Monarchs forced a fourth and inches. Electing to go for it, the Dukes were stopped short on a run by Thorpe, turning the ball over on downs with 7:09 left in the game.
The Dukes would get the ball one last time but were stopped at the ODU 42 yard line, after Thorpe was sacked by ODU defensive end Erik Saylor.