Defense

James Madison defensive tackle Mike Greene (92) and spur Wayne Davis (8) combine to tackle New Hampshire running back Evan Gray during the Dukes' win over the Wildcats on Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium.

They’re tired of their teammates getting tossed for targeting.

James Madison linebacker Dimitri Holloway, the team’s leading tackler, was the latest to be ejected for the penalty.

“When Holloway got called for the targeting,” Dukes coach Curt Cignetti said, “we were starting to play pretty well on defense by that time and I think everybody just sort of pulled together and we kind of dominated.”

Holloway was dismissed in the opening quarter of JMU’s 54-16 win over New Hampshire on Saturday with the score knotted at 10. It marked the third straight home contest a Dukes defender was called for the penalty.

JMU safety D’Angelo Amos was ejected for targeting against Villanova on Oct. 12 and again on Oct. 26 against Towson. Amos had to miss the entire first half against New Hampshire because of the one he committed against Towson.

But UNH had scored on each of its first two possessions and the call on Holloway didn’t come until after referees went to video review. There was no initial call of targeting made on the field.

“With [Holloway] being out, he’s one of our leaders,” defensive end John Daka said. “But [backup linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey] had to go in and step up and we all had to rally. [Holloway] is the emotional leader out there and having him out there is big for us, but we also knew we had the next-man up mentality so Tuck came in and we all had to bow our backs and play the tough defense we normally play.”

In the second quarter, the Dukes defense yielded only 16 yards and after the first quarter only allowed six points.

Safety MJ Hampton and spur Wayne Davis finished with seven tackles apiece, safety Adam Smith had an interception and Daka tallied a pair of sacks. Tucker-Dorsey had five tackles.

The interception for Smith marked the fourth straight game he's had one.

“Little discouraging to start out as slow as we did,” Smith said. “But Ben [DiNucci] came up to us on the sideline and he’s like, ‘We got you guys. We got your back.’ So I think after that and with Dimitri going down we knew it was time to step up and rally and get some stops.”

*****

- JMU’s win over UNH clinched at least a share of the Colonial Athletic Association championship. The Dukes can claim it outright with a victory next week against Richmond.

- The victory over the Wildcats also pushed JMU to an 11-9 mark all-time against UNH. It’s the third straight win the Dukes have had in the series at Bridgeforth Stadium, but Cignetti said he sensed the team was excited to get a little payback after the Wildcats beat JMU 35-24 last year in Durham, N.H.

- Running back Percy Agyei-Obese ran for a career-high 130 yards and three touchdowns. Agyei-Obese said the Dukes’ offensive line dominated throughout the game and “the defense was tired, which allowed us to ground and pound the rest of the game.”

- Wide receiver Brandon Polk tallied a career-high 136 receiving yards on five catches, averaging 27.2 yards per catch. Polk now has 816 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s the first JMU receiver to eclipse 800 yards since Macey Brooks did it 1996.

- Dukes running back Latrele Palmer left the game in the second quarter when he hobbled off awkwardly following a carry. About Palmer, Cignetti said: “X-Rays are negative. Sprain. We’ll still do an MRI.”

- A scout from the Philadelphia Eagles was in attendance for JMU-UNH.

Contact Greg Madia at 574-6296 or gmadia@dnronline.com

Follow Greg on Twitter: @Madia_DNRSports

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