Kloosterman’s touchdown catch lifts Dukes past Spiders

James Madison's Jonathan Kloosterman snags a touchdown pass next to the University of Richmond's Tafon Mainsah in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Richmond on Saturday. JMU won 47-43. P. Kvein Morley/ Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

RICHMOND — Jonathan Kloosterman made sure his first game back from injury was a memorable one.

The James Madison University tight end and Strasburg graduate had the game-winning touchdown catch to help lead the Dukes to a 47-43 victory over Colonial Athletic Association rival Richmond on Saturday.

“That’s huge,” JMU coach Mike Houston said of having Kloosterman back on the field. “I mean, two touchdowns in his first game back. I said in the preseason I thought he was one of the better tight ends in the league, and certainly it’s hurt us the past month not having him.”

The Dukes (8-1, 6-0 CAA) trailed 37-33 with 6:43 left. They then began a 12-play drive, which took over five minutes off the clock.

JMU converted on a fourth-and-1 at the Richmond 29. JMU running back Khalid Abdullah gained three yards for the first down.

“We just challenged our offensive line that they got to come off the ball and knock ’em back, and give Khalid a little bit of running room,” Houston said. “And I think we got surge for about four yards. That’s a play that you got to be able to convert if you’re going to win big ballgames late in the year.”

Four plays later on second-and-8 from the Richmond 9, JMU quarterback Bryan Schor connected with Kloosterman in the corner of the end zone for the game-winning score and his second touchdown catch of the game with 1:36 left.

“It was a great call by the coaches,” Kloosterman said. “We saw the defense that we wanted to see. And at the beginning of the play you could tell by the way the defense was set up that the ball had a good chance of going to me. Bryan put it in a good spot and I just had to make a play on it.”

JMU’s defense responded on the ensuing drive. A penalty on the kickoff backed Richmond up, and then another penalty on first down moved the ball back to the Richmond 8-yard line.

The Dukes forced four incomplete passes to take over on downs with 1:10 left in the game, and an Abdullah touchdown sealed the win for the Dukes with one minute left in the game.

“Hats off to the University of Richmond, and coach (Danny) Rocco and his team,” Houston said. “What a special effort they gave today, and it’s really too bad there has to be a winner or loser in this ballgame the way the two teams competed. Certainly for us it’s a huge win against probably our biggest rival on the road. And I could not be more proud of the way our players represented themselves and played and competed all day long.”

The two teams went back and forth throughout the game. They were tied 24-24 at the half. JMU fumbled in the red zone on its first possession of the second half and Richmond recovered, but the Dukes forced a punt.

Richmond’s David Broadus’ punt went only nine yards, which set-up an 8-yard touchdown run by Abdullah for a 30-24 lead with 10:28 left in the third quarter.

Later in the third quarter, Richmond drove 80 yards on six plays. Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jay Palmer to put the Spiders up 31-30 with 2:12 left in the third quarter.

JMU’s next drive stalled at the Richmond 5, and Millbrook graduate Tyler Gray drilled a 21-yard field goal to give the Dukes a 33-31 lead with 11:16 left.

The Spiders (7-2, 4-2 CAA) came right back with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead again. Lauletta ran for a 1-yard touchdown to give Richmond a 37-33 edge with 6:43 left.

“The game went back and forth and had a lot of adversity at times,” Houston said. “I’m really pleased with the way the players kept responding, kept their heads up and kept coming back.”

Both teams moved the ball effectively in the first half.

The teams traded leads as JMU held Richmond to a field goal on it’s second possession. The Dukes led 14-10 after the first quarter.

A 25-yard field goal by Gray tied the game at 17-17, after a JMU drive stalled inside the Richmond 10. The two teams then traded touchdowns, including an 11-yard pass from Schor to Kloosterman, late in the first half.

Lauletta threw for 435 yards in the loss on 28-for-43 passing and five touchdown passes.

Schor went 22-for-28 for 285 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Schor also ran for 91 yards. Abdullah, who broke the career record for rushing touchdowns (33), ran for 123 yards and two scores.

Terrence Alls had six catches for 98 yards to lead the Dukes. Kloosterman finished with five receptions for 53 yards. JMU’s defense was led by senior linebacker and Warren County graduate Gage Steele and safety Jordan Brown with 11 tackles each.

The win keeps JMU in first place, and Houston said it was a great game to be a part of.

“This is what you coach and play for,” he said. “You’re playing your biggest rival at their place, first place in the conference is on the line. I told our kids early in the week ‘fans and alumni, they remember teams that win in November.'”

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