Dukes set record with 80 points in season-opening win

HARRISONBURG — Things couldn’t have went much better for James Madison University in the first game of the Mike Houston era Saturday.

The Dukes dominated from start to finish in a 80-7 victory over Morehead State University at Bridgeforth Stadium. JMU set several school records, including points in a game and biggest margin of victory.

Houston, in his first year as JMU head football coach, said the team played as well as he could have expected.

“Obviously, we are extremely pleased with the way our team came out and played (Saturday),” Houston said. “I’m very, very happy with just the way that we approached the game, and the way we executed in all three phases throughout the bulk of the game.”

JMU received the ball first and marched 65 yards on 12 plays to take a quick lead. The Dukes ran the ball on 11 of the 12 plays, and senior tailback Khalid Abdullah scored on a 1-yard run to put JMU up 7-0 with 10:35 left in the first quarter.

After JMU’s defense forced a three-and-out the offense went back to work with another impressive drive.

The Dukes needed only five plays to go 66 yards. JMU quarterback Bryan Schor connected with Domo Taylor for 37 yards to help set-up a 2-yard touchdown run by Cardon Johnson with 8:21 remaining in the first quarter.

Johnson said the offensive line was the key to the Dukes’ 498 rushing yards.

“All week in practice coach Houston preaches you got to practice like how you’re going to play in the game,” Johnson said. “So I believed we practiced real hard this week. The O-line came out and executed like they’ve been doing all week. That provided running lanes for the backs, and all of us, (Saturday) to be successful.”

JMU’s Raven Green recovered a Morehead State fumble at the Eagles’ 14-yard line on the next drive, and the Dukes took advantage. Schor scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Dukes up 21-0 with 6:53 left in the opening quarter.

On JMU’s next possession the Dukes went 83 yards on seven plays. Schor ran for 63 yards, which helped set-up his 4-yard touchdown run with 52 seconds left in the opening quarter.

“I didn’t expect to run as much as we did (Saturday),” Schor said. “We got to thank the guys up front for that. If they’re going to perform the way they did (Saturday), we’re going to run the ball like we did.”

JMU’s defense came up with another big play early in the second quarter. Greene intercepted a Austin Gahafer pass and returned it 43 yards to the Morehead State 13-yard line.

“I can really credit that to (defensive coordinator) (Bob) Trott, because he was harping on me all week making sure I knew that exact play to be in the right position,” Greene said of the interception.

On the next play JMU’s Trai Sharp scored on a 13-yard touchdown run for a 35-0 lead with 13:01 left in the first half.

Schor was in a battle with redshirt junior Connor Mitch for the starting quarterback spot. Schor won the starting nod and had a strong game for the Dukes.

He went 8 for 11 for 109 yards through the air and 129 yards on 10 carries on the ground. He had three touchdown runs.

“I think Bryan did a great job of managing the offense tonight,” Houston said. “He did a great job of getting us out of trouble. I think he showed a lot of the reasons why he won the job in the preseason camp –the ability to make plays out of nothing.”

JMU had three players with over 100 rushing yards, tying a record set last year against Morehead State.

Sharp had 110 yards on 15 carries, and Johnson finished with 104 yards on 19 carries.

JMU’s 10 rushing touchdowns set a school record and was just one shy of George Southern University’s Football Championship Subdivision record of 11. The Dukes finished with 607 yards of offense.

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