At halftime, third-seeded James Madison leads VMI 21-3 in the opening round of the FCS playoffs at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg.
JMU used touchdowns from senior running backs Jawon Hamilton and Percy Agyei-Obese as well as one from quarterback Cole Johnson to slot receiver Kris Thornton to build its lead.
First Down – Dukes senior cornerback Wesley McCormick bailed out the defense when he made the best play of his career on VMI’s first series in the opening quarter. The Keydets used a reverse with slot receiver Chance Knox, carrying the ball to pick up 63 yards, to get into the red zone. Two plays later, VMI quarterback Seth Morgan tried to connect with standout wide receiver Jakob Herres in the end zone, but McCormick – matched up one-on-one with Herres – contended the pass and intercepted it. The play prevented VMI from getting on the board first.
Second Down – Hamilton set a program record for longest run and longest play along with an FCS playoff record with his 99-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Hamilton went untouched after taking a handoff and running past the right side of the Dukes’ offensive line. The previous school record was held by Joe Sparksman, who had a 95-yard run against William & Mary in 1990. The previous FCS playoff record was held by ex-Monmouth running back Pete Guerriero, who had a 93-yard run against JMU in last season’s second round. The Dukes were backed up at its own 1-yard line following a successful pooch punt from VMI, which had its quarterback Seth Morgan kick the ball. His punt went 49 yards to pin JMU at its own 1. The score from Hamilton put the Dukes up 7-0 with 6:13 to go in the first quarter.
Third Down – The Dukes got their big play on the long run early, but they tried time and time again to connect down the field on a long pass. It wasn’t until their fifth try, which came in the second quarter, that Johnson was able to hit one of his receivers streaking down the field when Antwane Wells Jr. hauled in a 42-yard catch to get the ball down to the VMI 2-yard line. On the next play, Agyei-Obese’s 2-yard touchdown run extended JMU’s lead to 14-3. Earlier in the game, Johnson tried deep passes to Wells Jr. and Thornton, but passes fell incomplete.
Fourth Down – As the second quarter went on, VMI’s defense started to wear down. The Dukes averaged 8.3 yards per play in the opening half and JMU racked 332 total yards.