By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
HARRISONBURG -- If there were any doubts about Dae'Quan Scott's transformation from wide receiver to running back, he put them to rest on Saturday night.
The James Madison University redshirt junior had 208 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in the Dukes' 42-3 win over Alcorn State. Scott had 107 yards rushing in the victory.
Scott started out as a wide receiver for James Madison University two years ago. During his redshirt freshman season he was used as both a running back and a wide receiver.
Last year he became the Dukes starting running back, and now a year later he's even more comfortable in the role.
"I felt like it's a process by me moving from receiver to running back," Scott said. "It really comes natural once you've played it. After a while, it's not that hard."
Scott had a huge first half, before leaving the game with a left ankle injury. Scott had eight carries for 107 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He also had five receptions for 101 yards and one touchdown.
Scott said the injury wasn't serious, and he is hoping to be back within a couple days.
The start of the game was delayed by an hour due to inclement weather. The Dukes struggled a little in the first quarter, including three personal foul penalties.
JMU's first drive ended with an interception by Alcorn State's Brandon Thompson. JMU's defense responded as it recovered a fumble by Tavoris Doss at the Alcorn State 26.
The Dukes (2-0) didn't waste much time to take advantage. JMU quarterback Justin Thorpe ran 22 yards to the Alcorn State 4. Two plays later Scott ran it in from the 1, to give JMU a 7-0 lead with 11:34 left in the first quarter.
JMU's defense forced a punt on the next possession, but Scott muffed the punt giving the ball back to the Braves.
"We just didn't play real well," JMU coach Mickey Matthews said. "I was really upset with how we played -- undisciplined. We got three big penalties in the first quarter."
JMU's next possession was another quick one. Scott ran to the left sideline, then cut back to the middle and found paydirt for a 67-yard touchdown.
Scott said he's learned to slow down and be more patient as a running back and it helped him on the play.
"At first I had to slow down because I was in front of [offensive lineman] Earl [Watford] a little bit," Scott said. "I saw that and then once he blocked out I just ran under him. I saw somebody come from my right. I saw DA [wide receiver Daniel Brown] down field making a good block, and I ran off of that and cut back and scored."
JMU added to the lead in the second quarter with a three-play drive. Thorpe scrambled around and ran it in from 32 yards out to give JMU a 21-0 lead with 12:12 left in the first half.
Scott then added his final touchdown, capping off a nine-play 86-yard drive. The drive consisted of six pass plays. Scott hauled in a 10-yard pass from Thorpe to give JMU a 28-0 lead with 3:06 remaining in the game.
Thorpe struggled a little early in the game, but was able to bounce back with a 14-for-18 performance for 140 yards.
"I had a couple missed passes early and coach just got on me and said relax," Thorpe said. "I can always scramble out of the pocket and get yards, that's the easy part. Sometimes it's difficult just sitting in the pocket and delivering a pass. I felt pretty good. I just wish I could take back some of those missed deep balls."
Thorpe ran for 101 yards and had one rushing touchdown. Sherando graduate and JMU tight end Brian Barlow had three receptions for 26 yards.
Handley graduate and redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Wilson made his first start at cornerback for the Dukes. He finished the game with two solo tackles. Wilson also returned the opening kickoff 37 yards.
Alcorn State Jay Hopson was happy with how his team performed. Hopson said he told his team they played against a quality opponent.
"[JMU] is probably the best team in America in 1-AA football -- FCS," Hopson said. "We knew coming in that we'd be taking on a great football team. I thought our kids hung in there in the second half. I was proud of the way they fought."
The Dukes will now travel to Landover, Md., to play West Virginia University next Saturday at FedEx Field. The Mountaineers are ranked No. 9 in the AP Top 25 poll and No. 8 in the USA Today coaches poll.
The players said they have a lot of improving to do after the win over Alcorn State.
"It's still early in the season, so there's a lot of things [we need to work on] like cut back on the penalties," JMU redshirt senior Ryan Smith said. "We had some missed tackles on defense. There's still a lot of things we got to pull together to do and be where we want to be."