JMU Football Notebook: Sharp has career-best day in Dukes’ victory

James Madison University running back Trai Sharp had a career-best day in Saturday’s 20-10 road victory over Delaware.

The junior finished with 185 yards and a touchdown. Sharp also had three receptions for 13 yards.

“I thought Trai really played well Saturday,” JMU head coach Mike Houston said in Monday’s weekly teleconference. “I felt like he was really seeing the cuts. He was seeing where the plays were there in our scheme. We were facing a very good defense. I thought Delaware defended us as good as anybody has. There were some plays there where maybe we weren’t quite seeing the cuts with some of the other guys. But I thought Trai just did an excellent job of making the plays.”

Sharp ignited JMU’s offense in the first quarter with a 59-yard run, and then followed that up with a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Dukes a 7-3 lead.

Houston said he thought Sharp really played a key role in JMU’s success in the second half of the game.

Terrence Alls

“In the second half he had the 5-6-yard runs that kept the chains moving,” Houston said. “That allowed us to have productive drives.”

Just two weeks ago Sharp’s father, David, died and Houston said that Trai has handled things as well as anyone could expect him to.

“Trai is a mature young man,” Houston said. “And we’ve talked about that he can’t stop living. In fact he needs to live his life. That’s what his mom needs him to do. That’s what his uncles need him to do. They want to see him live his life and make sure that he is taken care of. And that he’s going to keep progressing towards the positive bright life and future that he has. And so that’s what he’s working on.”

STREAK GOES ON: JMU extended its winning streak to 17 games. The streak tied a Colonial Athletic Association record. The Dukes have the longest current winning streak in all of Division I college football. Oklahoma has the current longest winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision at 14 games.

The Dukes haven’t lost a game since the third game of last season, a 56-28 defeat to the University of North Carolina, an FBS team.

Houston said there a lot of factors that have led to the winning streak.

“I think it says we do have some quality players here,” Houston said. “And obviously I have a quality staff whose done a really, really good job making sure the kids are prepared each week.”

The Dukes are off this week and will host Villanova on Oct. 14 at 3:30 p.m.

Houston said one key ingredient to JMU’s success has been the team’s ability to take things one game at a time.

“It’s just one of those things where I think our kids have done a really, really good job of staying focused on the game right in front of them,” Houston said. “And that’s really what we preach every single week. The only thing on our radar right now is Villanova. Nothing else matters to us. And I think our players and our coaches do a good job of keeping that tunnel vision all throughout the season.”

WELCOME BACK: The Dukes saw the return of three key players against Delaware.

Offensive lineman Nick Edwards, senior wide receiver Terrence Alls and junior linebacker Brandon Hereford all returned from a six-game suspension due to a violation of team rules. The trio missed the last two games of last season and the first four games of this season.

“I thought that all three played well,” Houston said. “I think all three can probably play better. I think you saw with them a lot of the first game stuff.”

Hereford led the Dukes with 11 tackles. Alls had three receptions for 25 yards. Edwards started at right guard, replacing Gerren Butler who is out due to injury.

“Brandon over-scraped some things because he was playing so fast and just kind of getting things timed up to game speed,” Houston said. “I thought Terrence played well, and just, with all of a sudden playing things at game speed, he realized he probably needed to be conditioned a little bit more.

“I thought that Nick played well. But I think there’s some things that we can get corrected with Nick to where he can play even better the next time out.”