Game 556: No. 1 JMU’s ten takeaways, third quarter burst jolt South Dakota State, 51-16
Harrisonburg, Virginia – No. 1 and defending FCS champ James Madison let South Dakota State (11-3) hang close in the first half of Game 556, an FCS semi-final game, but a burst of five consecutive scores in the third period put them on their way to 51-16 victory to head to Frisco, Texas on January 6 to face North Dakota State in the national championship. JMU ‘s defense forced 10 turnovers, nine by QB Tarvyn Christion (six INTs, three fumbles) over the course of the game. Of the first four in the first half, only one resulted in a score by the Duke’s offense, but late in the first half of Game 556, the offense got on track and became virtually unstoppable.
For collegefootballfan.com, it was our first game ever at James Madison’s Zane Showker Field at Bridgeforth Stadium, a beautiful setting near the Blue Ridge Mountains. The atmosphere and the spirit during the game was lively and energetic amongst its fans and its marching band.
Jack Rabbits stay close
The Dukes (14-0) totally dominated in the second half to say the least. QB Bryan Schor completed 18 of 25 passes for 203 yards and two TDS, both to WR Riley Stapleton in the first half. For his counterpart Christion, despite one INT and three fumbles early in the game, he tossed a nine-yard TD to WR Jake Wieneke. PK Chase Vinatieri also added a 37-yard FG. Narrowing the margin, 14-10 on the FG, it seemed to wake up the Dukes’ offense. Marcus Marshall returned the next kickoff 38 yards to the 42. Four plays and 47 seconds later, Schor plunged in from the one with just nine seconds left before the half. With a 21-10 lead, the Dukes would receive the second half kickoff. Look out!
Second half burst
On the second play from scrimmage, Marcus Marshall (15 carries for 203 yards, two TDs) broke through the middle for a 65-yard touchdown run. On the third play of the next JMU possession, Marshall out did himself with and 85-yard TD jaunt. The Dukes put more time into the next score as they drove 70 yards on seven plays culminated by Taylor Woods’ three-yard run. Following Christion’s third fumble of the game recovered at the Jack Rabbit sixteen, Ethan Ratke’s 24-yard FG went through the uprights. Next, the Duke defense picked off its third pass, but unlike the others, S Raven Greene took it 59 yards for the score and the home crowd frenzied with their Dukes up by a score of 51-10 in our game 556.
In the fourth, HC Mike Houston pulled Schor and some other key starters as well as most of his defense to keep them healthy for the FCS finale on January 6. An SDSU INT of Cole Johnson by LB Chris Rozeboom to the JMU five resulted in a five-yard pass from Christion to TE Dallas Goedert to close out the game’s coring.
Should I stay or should I go? I stayed…
Christion stayed in the game until he tossed two more INTs in the final period. After each turnover, he sat distraught by himself in the bench area. Without conferring with his HC John Stiegelmeier, he eventually walked over to senior back-up QB Dalton Douglas, evidently told him he was finished, (some nearby fans and I wondered why he wasn’t pulled earlier), and Douglas went in to finish off the long day for the junior who hopefully has better days ahead of him his senior year at South Dakota State. Final score of the FCS semi-final in game 556, 51-16.
JMU heads next to Frisco, Texas to “Defend the crown” as their placards read. The interesting thing now is that they will be defending it from the program who held it five consecutive years before they won it. North Dakota State, who fell in last year’s semi-finals to Youngstown State, will be just as anxious to bring the hardware back to Fargo after one year’s absence after a five-year championship streak. The Bison show up in Frisco at 12-1. Their lone loss – 33-21 at South Dakota State on November 4. This should be a great game! Maybe we should go there instead of Atlanta for which tickets are way out of our price range.
As for Collegefootballfan.com, after seventeen straight Saturdays of College football games in 2017 dating back to August 26, we have our first BYE Week. This must be a collegefootballfan.com record:
On December 27, we will be back in Bowl action starting with Boston College (7-5) vs. Iowa (7-5) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. Rutgers/Army fan Frank Scarpa will be joining us there. The next day, back to Annapolis to see Navy (6-6) face Virginia (6-6) in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman. Virginia played on our slate this year beating Georgia Tech in a great game in Charlottesville. The Mids didn’t fare as well under our watch this year as in more recent years. We saw them start strong with two wins, but they later fell twice in Philly, to Temple and to Army. We will be tailgating with most of our usual cohorts down at Navy -Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, home of the Mids. From there, we head down to our first Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC to see Wake Forest (7-5) play Texas A&M (7-5). We will be joining up with friend and Wake alum Jim Harton along his WFU friends we tailgated with this year on October 28 when we watched the Deacs knock off Louisville. We’ll hang out with Jim (aka “Bug”), One-Iron, Goober, and Earl among others for what should be a fun time. They’ve been there before and have a plan in place.
Happy New Year!
(We gotta think about this Frisco trip. Forget Atlanta. Stay tuned.)