JMU Football Notebook: Marshall peaking at right time for Dukes

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University junior running back Marcus Marshall picked the perfect time to be playing his best football.

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University junior running back Marcus Marshall picked the perfect time to be playing his best football.

The Georgia Tech transfer has had his two best games of the season the last two weeks for the Dukes. In last weekend’s 51-16 Football Championship Subdivision semifinal win over South Dakota State University, Marshall ran for 203 yards on just 15 carries and had two touchdowns.

“It’s good to have a couple good games and string things together,” Marshall said after Saturday’s win.

Marshall broke the game wide open with two long touchdown runs on back-to-back JMU possessions to start the second half.

Marshall’s first touchdown was a 65-yard run and the second one was an 87-yard run, which gave the Dukes a commanding 35-10 lead.

“Marcus (Marshall) right now is playing the way we envisioned him being able to play whenever we signed him out of Georgia Tech,” JMU head football coach Mike Houston said. “Certainly he has elite speed. And so we’ve been waiting, and I’ve been waiting on those runs this year, because he has that game-changing speed.”

Not only did Marshall have a big game running the ball, but for the second week in a row he had a big kickoff return as well.

Marshall returned a kickoff late in the first half 38 yards to the JMU 42-yard-line, which set-up a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half. The 1-yard touchdown run by JMU quarterback Bryan Schor gave the Dukes a 21-10 halftime lead.

“I think (Marshall’s) been pretty solid as a returner all year,” Houston said of the kick return. “I think that our unit has improved throughout the year. (Saturday) the return that we broke right there was one that we installed just for this game. And (JMU’s) Ron’Dell Carter had a huge block that really broke the return. And I think that’s just (JMU special teams) coach (Roy) Tesh has worked very, very hard with that unit this year. And we’ve been so close all year, and we’re still so close to breaking one for the distance.”

SPECIAL DAY FOR SENIORS: JMU’s 23 seniors were able to go out on top with Saturday’s 51-16 FCS semifinal win in their last-ever home game at Bridgeforth Stadium.

There was a JMU playoff-record crowd of 16,528 on hand for the contest. The seniors said it was a special day for them.

“Shout out to all JMU Nation fans for showing up, because we couldn’t do it without you guys and all the love and support you guys give us,” JMU redshirt senior safety Jordan Brown said. “So thank you for that and coming through. Knowing this was our last time we wanted to put on a show for everybody and just have fun with it. So it was a great day.”

Schor said that it was the perfect way to end his career at Bridgeforth Stadium.

“It was amazing. It was everything I expected it to be,” Schor said. “There was a great amount of people in the stands. I felt like the crowd was behind us the whole way. And the way it turned out was perfect. I couldn’t dream it any other way. To end this with the seniors and the rest of the team in Bridgeforth this year and go out with a convincing win was something really special to me.”

Schor and Houston came to the press conference after the game together and separate for the rest of the team. After the press conference was over, Houston took a moment to talk about how special it’s been to coach Schor.

“I’ve had the opportunity for the last two years to coach the best quarterback to ever play at James Madison University,” Houston said of Schor. “And we got one more game together. But I think we all have been blessed to have a player of this caliber on our team and in our program, and for the fans to be able to watch lead our team for the last two years.”