JMU roundup: Blue Hens rally past JMU, 29-22

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

NEWARK, De.- No. 14 James Madison University was unable to overcome two short field situations resulting in Delaware second-half touchdowns and fell to the host Blue Hens, 29-22, in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams. With the loss, the Dukes fell to 3-2 on the year while the Blue Hens moved to 4-1.

Leading 19-7 in the third quarter, James Madison gave up two straight drives starting on JMU’s own 15-yard line to Delaware, the first set up by a long kick return and the second on a blocked Connor Arnone punt. The Blue Hens converted both into touchdowns to take a 22-19 lead, with the second an 8-yard touchdown pass from Trent Hurley to Ryan Broyles who connected again for the two-point conversion to take the lead.

The Dukes rallied with an eight-play, 65-yard drive but the drive stalled at the 11-yard line. James Madison was forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Cameron Starke to tie the game at 22 with 11:35 remaining in the fourth quarter .

Delaware responded on its ensuing possession by going on an 11-play, 75-yard march that ended with 4-yard touchdown pass from Hurley to Broyles to give the Blue Hens what would be the game-winning touchdown with 6:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Dukes opened the game on defense and on the first play, Stephon Robertson deflected Trent Hurley’s pass and intercepted it, putting JMU in business at the UD 33. James Madison could not get a first down, but put the first points on the board on a 42-yard field goal by Cameron Starke to make it 3-0. JMU made it 6-0 on 31-yard field goal by Starke with 6:11 remaining in the first to cap off a seven-play, 70-yard drive.

The Dukes pushed their lead to 13-0 when Michael Birdsong connected on a 37-yard touchdown pass to tight end Deane Cheatham with just 16 seconds to go in the first quarter.

After a missed field goal on their previous possession, Delaware put together its first scoring drive of the game of seven plays and 71 yards. This time, the Hens found the end zone on Andrew Pierce’s 2-yard touchdown run.

Delaware threatened again late in the first half, but redshirt-freshman cornerback Kwe’shon Williams deflected Hurley’s pass and redshirt-freshman cornerback Taylor Reynolds grabbed it in the end zone for a touchback . JMU took it the length of the field in just under two mimutes, as Birdsong hit Dae’Quan Scott on a wheel route for a 37-yard touchdown that made it 19-7 Dukes at the halftime break.

On the first possession of the second half, Cameron Starke missed his first field goal of the season, a 33- yard attempt, wide right.

Neither team was able to run the ball effectively in the game, as the two teams only managed just over 120 yards each. Birdsong was 19-for-35 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while Robertson led all tacklers with a career-high 16 stops, including a career-best 4.5 tackles for loss.

Scott was held in check for most of the game by the Blue Hens defense and finished the game with 20 carries for 52 yards and four receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown.

James Madison held a slight advantage in yardage at 414-360 and also time of possession at 32:17 to 27:43. The two key stats were third-down conversions, as JMU was just 3-of-16 as compared to UD’s 8-of-15 and James Madison also committed nine penalties for 77 yards compared to just one penalty for 10 yards for Delaware.

JMU will return to action at Bridgeforth Stadium on Oct. 5 to face CAA newcomer Albany at 1:30 p.m.

Field hockey
WILLIAMSBURG – With a goal in the 67th minute, William & Mary was able to overtake James Madison field hockey 4-3 in both teams’ Colonial Athletic Association opener on Sunday afternoon.

JMU is now 5-5 overall this season and 0-1 in league play while William & Mary improved to 4-5 on the year and 1-0 in league action.

The Dukes and the Tribe went scoreless for 31:47 to close the first half and open the second half. After eight straight shots by the Tribe, including four saved by sophomore goalkeeper Lena Wimmert, William & Mary’s Olivia Hajek deflected a pass from Maria Pastor into the far corner of the net to give the Tribe the 4-3 lead with 3:44 remaining in the game.

With 1:54 to go in regulation, a yellow card on William & Mary’s Chaney Manganello gave the Dukes the 11-on-10 player advantage. At the 69:44 mark, JMU earned a corner but were unable to convert the opportunity into points and the clock expired.

Wimmert was charged with the loss (3-4) after allowing four goals and committing five saves. Meredith Savage earned the win, her first of the season (1-3), after allowing three goals and committing five saves.

Sophomore Loes Stijntjes led the Dukes with two goals on the day, both off passes from sophomore Saskia Chelmowski. The Tribe’s Pippin Saunders accounted for five points, including two goals and an assist, to lead William & Mary in the win.

William & Mary struck first just 3:01 into the game as Saunders took the pass from Emma Clifton for the first shot and first score of the game. Four minutes later, however, freshman Rosalie Becker picked up her third goal of the season to knot the game at 1-all.

Saunders notched her second goal of the game in the 11th minute, picking up the rebound off a saved shot off a corner and giving the Tribe the 2-1 advantage.

After 20 minutes of tight play, sophomore Stijntjes connected on two straight shot attempts off passes from Chelmowski to give the Dukes the 3-2 lead with less than two minutes left in the first half. It was Stijntjes’ second and third goals of the year.

With just 31 seconds on the clock until halftime, William & Mary’s Esty Byrd scored off a straight corner to tie the game at 3-3 for the start of the second half.

JMU continues CAA play on Friday, October 4, with a road match at Towson. Action begins at 6 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Women’s tennis
BLACKSBURG – James Madison women’s tennis walked away from the Hokie Fall Invite with a second-place finish and a fourth-place finish in singles competition as well as a third-place finish and fourth-place finish in doubles action.

Sophomore Cara Wirth took second place in Flight ‘C’ singles after falling to Liberty’s Brittany Yang in three sets (6-4, 3-6, 6-1) on the final day of competition. In the third-place match of the bracket, redshirt junior Sarah Khan was defeated by Pittsburgh’s Molly Wickman after losing the third-set tiebreaker 1-0(8). Khan fell behind 6-2 in set one, but rallied for the 7-5 win in set two.

Wirth and senior Ruxandra Andriescu tallied a third-place finish in Flight ‘B’ doubles after downing the inter-school duo of Lauren Mabe (Liberty) and Allison Michael (Radford) 8-3.

In Flight ‘A’ doubles, freshman Alex Huie and junior Taylor Pinchoff earned a fourth-place finish after an 8-6 loss to Liberty’s Maria Khval and Belen Rivera. In the final match of the Flight ‘A’ doubles consolation bracket, Pittsburgh’s Taylor Washington and Amanda Wickman overcome Khan and freshman Rachel Nelson 8-3.

Senior Jacqueline Palmucci won her Flight ‘B’ singles consolation match 6-3, 6-1 against Radford’s Sara Andrade, and freshman Emily Bradshaw notched the victory in her consolation bout when VCU’s Sitilia Rencheli withdrew from the match. Nelson fell in two sets (6-2, 7-6(2)) to Marshall’s Rachael Morales in her Flight ‘B’ singles consolation match.

The Dukes next compete October 11-13 when they travel out of the Commonwealth for the Navy Blue & Gold Invitational in Annapolis, Md.