Dukes break records, hammer Rams 84-7

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University’s football team couldn’t have asked for a better performance than the one it had Saturday.

The Dukes broke several school records as they dominated Rhode Island from start to finish in an 84-7 Colonial Athletic Association victory.

“The big thing we talked about (Friday night), we felt like we had not played a complete game maybe since Morehread State where we really finished the ball game,” JMU head coach Mike Houston said. “So we wanted to start fast and just really play well all day long. I thought that they came out and really did a great job with that in all three phases today.”

The Dukes set a school record for points in a game, as well as points in a CAA contest. It was also the largest margin of victory in a CAA game.

JMU quarterback Bryan Schor said that the bye week last week really helped the Dukes and it showed against Rhode Island.

“I think one thing that really helped us is we got our legs underneath us,” Schor said. “Playing seven games in a row takes a toll on anyone, especially in the league that we play in. We know that kind of catches up to you eventually. So just coming off our bye week and having fresh legs, and then having the ability to work on the tiny things that we did in the bye week really helped us. And I think that’s why you saw us really clicking today.”

The Dukes (7-1, 5-0 CAA) didn’t waste time in taking charge of the contest. JMU scored touchdowns on all four possessions it had in the opening quarter.

JMU went 75 yards on eight plays to start the game. JMU’s Khalid Abdullah scored on an 11-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead with 11:03 left in the first quarter.

On JMU’s second drive the Dukes marched 72 yards in eight plays. JMU running back Cardon Johnson capped off the drive with a 5-ayrd score for a 14-0 lead with 5:34 left in the opening quarter.

The Dukes mixed in the pass and the run on both of their first two drives. JMU had six pass attempts and 10 running plays.

“Something that we really stress to our offense is to start fast, and just everyone go out there and do your job,” Schor said. “And when we do that I think it really carries us through the rest of the game, and I think it kind of sparks momentum for us, for our defense and for our special teams.”

The Dukes scored quickly on their last two drives of the first quarter. On the third play of their third drive, JMU quarterback Bryan Schor completed a 58-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Davis.

A 42-yard punt return by JMU’s John Miller set-up the Dukes next score. On the following play, Johnson scored on a 36-yard touchdown run to give the Dukes a 28-0 lead with 2:20 left in the opening quarter.

The Dukes forced six turnovers in the game, including five interceptions. They held the Rams to 109 yards of total offense.

JMU safety Raven Greene had two of them, including one returned for a touchdown. Greene said that JMU defensive coordinator Bob Trott wanted his team to be aggressive and it worked out for the Dukes.

“Coach Trott really made sure to emphasize that we run to the ball and as you could have seen a lot of the interceptions and stuff that we made were off of tips and whatever else,” Greene said. “So just making sure that we don’t stop running and just capitalizing was one of the main things he stressed to us.”

Schor finished with 309 passing yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes. He also broke the record for completion percentage (95.5 percent) as he was 21-for-22. Schor completed his first 10 passes of the game.

“It definitely helps my confidence going out there and not seeing a ball hit the ground,” Schor said. “It’s something that I don’t really notice, and then someone points it out and I’m like, ‘shush, quiet. Don’t talk about it now, we’ll talk about it later.’ So having that happen to start off the game is definitely a plus and, it definitely makes me feel comfortable out there.”

Davis had five receptions for 111 yards receiving. Abdullah led the rushing attack with 97 yards on 18 carries. JMU tight end Daniel Schiele had three touchdown receptions.

Leading 84-7 with a little over nine minutes left in the game, the Dukes took an knee four times at the Rhode Island 1-yard line to not run the score up.

The Dukes, who are now alone in first place in the CAA, play at the University of Richmond in a battle between two of the top-ranked teams in Football Championship Subdivision. The Dukes suffered a tough loss to Richmond last year, when JMU came in undefeated.

“I think it’s one that we definitely remember from last year,” Schor said. “It’s going to be in our hearts a little bit going into the game, but I don’t think it’s going to change the way we prepare this week.”

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