Dukes dominant in win over Tigers

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

HARRISONBURG –James Madison University put together an impressive performance on Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium.

The Dukes played well on both sides of the ball en route to a 62-7 victory over Towson in Colonial Athletic Association football action.

“The motto this week was ‘all you got, give your everything,'” JMU quarterback Vad Lee said. “We feel pretty good when we give everything. We feel have a pretty good team, and we feel like we can do some great things.”

The Dukes (4-3, 2-2 CAA) showed Saturday how strong they can be when everything is working for them.

JMU’s defense held Towson (2-5, 0-3) to 67 yards rushing on 41 carries, and to only 234 yards of total offense. JMU’s defense also caused five fumbles, three of which they recovered, and scored two defensive touchdowns.

On offense JMU finished with 553 yards of offense with a very balanced attack.

It didn’t take the Dukes much time to get things rolling. JMU scored on just three plays on its opening drive. Lee connected with Brandon Ravenel for 10 yards on the second play.

The two connected again on the next play for a 48-yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game.

Ravenel has been banged up throughout the season, but is finally healthy again and it showed against the Tigers. Ravenel finished with eight receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s a great feeling,” Ravenel said of his comeback from injuries. “Vad’s one of the people that’s been there for me after all the missed games. It’s been really tough. All of them have been here for me just trying to get me back in the swing of things. For me to come back and them to just take me back with open arms is a really good feeling. I thank them all for that.”

Towson had a chance to score late in the first quarter. The Tigers moved the ball to the JMU 17, but had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt by Sam Hurwitz. JMU true freshman Jimmy Moreland blocked the field goal to give JMU the ball at the JMU 28-yard line.

The Dukes took advantage with a six-play 72-yard drive.

Lee capped off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Smith for a 13-0 lead with 47 seconds left in the first half.

“We were able to exploit some of the holes they had on defense,” Smith said. “They were a great secondary overall. They played really fast and really hard. Our coaches helped prepare us for this game.”

JMU’s defense stepped up in the second quarter with a couple big plays.

JMu’s Alex Mosley recovered a Towson fumble, off a hit by JMU senior defensive end Brandon Lee, at the JMU 45. The Dukes drove the ball to the Towson 33, but the drive stalled on a 50-yard field goal miss by Ryan Maglio.

Late in the first half, Rhakeem Stallings recovered a fumble, off another hit by Brandon Lee, and returned it 27 yards for the score to put JMU up 20-0 with 3:01 left in the first half.

“Brandon Lee finished the game with three forced fumbles.

“[Towson quarterback Connor Frazier] had the ball loose pretty much the entire game,” Brandon Lee said of the fumbles. “It’s not necessarily that you’re going after the ball, but it’s just the fact that you practice stuff like that and it shows up in the game and it did today.”

On Towson’s second play of the ensuing drive, Moreland intercepted a Frazier pass and returned it 26 yards for the touchdown and a 27-0 JMU lead with 2:15 left in the half.

“Jimmy’s one of those talented young kids that you look for in recruiting,” JMU head coach Everett Withers said of Moreland. “He has a knack for just kind of being around the ball and understanding how to make plays.”

The Dukes have struggled at times on defense this season, but seem to be getting better with each game. They were especially sharp against the run against the Tigers. Towson’s Darius Victor entered Saturday’s game second in the CAA in rushing, but was held to 37 yards on 12 carries.

“We know our run defense hasn’t been where it was supposed to be, honestly,” Brandon Lee said. “And every week in practice we try to emphasize that, emphasize the fact that we know people are going to try to run against us. But honestly, we have the people to dominate the run game, and I really feel that showed up today.”

Lee finished the game with 255 yards through the air on 24-for-33 passing with three touchdowns. Ravenel had eight receptions for 107 yards with a touchdown.

Dean Marlowe led the JMU defense with 12 tackles, but was ejected in the second half for targeting. Withers said they may protest the ejection if they can. If they can’t protest or it is denied, Marlowe will have to sit out the first half of JMU’s next contest at Charlotte on Oct. 25. It is the second consecutive game that Marlowe has been ejected for targeting.

JMU redshirt sophomore linebacker and Warren County graduate Gage Steele had eight tackles for the Dukes.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com