June 24, 2018
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James Madison holds off late UMaine rally

BDN staff reports

HARRISONBURG, Va. — James Madison University forced six turnovers Saturday, including an interception on the final play of the game, while holding on for a 22-14 Colonial Athletic Association football victory over Maine at Bridgeforth Stadium.

Coach Jack Cosgrove’s Black Bears (4-5 overall, 3-3 CAA) trailed 22-0 after three quarters, but rallied for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make things interesting.

UMaine finished the game without the services of starting quarterback Warren Smith (25-for-42, 178 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs), who suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter and was eventually unable to continue.

The Bears also lost speedy wide receiver Landis Williams to injury.

The Dukes (4-5 overall, 2-4 CAA) built their success around smothering defense and a strong run game. James Madison limited UMaine to 49 net yards rushing and took the ball away from the Bears twice on fumbles and four times via interceptions.

Smith was UMaine’s top rusher with 45 yards, while wide receiver Mike Brusko made a career-best 12 receptions for 90 yards and score and also threw for a touchdown.

The Bears got off to a tough start after marching 70 yards on 14 plays on the game’s opening drive. Facing fourth-and-1 from the James Madison 10-yard line, the Bears elected to go for it.

Derek Session was dropped for a one-yard loss.

James Madison later scored four times in the second quarter to build a 15-0 lead. It was the first time this season the Bears had trailed at halftime.

The Dukes got on the scoreboard at 10:35 of the second quarter when, after a Jerron McMillian interception at the UM 1-yard line, the Bears were forced to punt. The snap went out of the end zone for a safety.

After Jordan Waxman’s ensuing free kick went out of bounds, JMU took over at midfield. The hosts scored three plays later when quarterback Justin Thorpe scampered 42 yards for a touchdown with 9:09 to play in the half.

JMU intercepted Smith on the Bears’ next two possessions. The second, by Ronnell Brown, set up Dixon Wright’s 33-yard field goal that made it 12-0.

Des Randall then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Dukes recovered at the UM 38. JMU got in position for Wright’s 38-yard field goal with 16 seconds left in the first half.

The Dukes added to their advantage on the opening possession of the second half. The hosts went 66 yards, culminating in a 31-yard TD pass from Thorpe to Scott Noble.

UMaine finally got on the board one minute into the fourth quarter. The nine-play, 67-yard drive was capped by a 13-yard scoring toss from Smith to Brusko.

The Bears made it interesting in the late going. Punting from their own 18-yard line, Brusko instead threw a pass to Troy Harris, who ran it 82 yards for a touchdown that made it 22-14 with 6:01 to play.

However, UMaine was unable to mount a threat on its last two possessions.

Linebacker Vinson Givans paced the UMaine defense with 15 tackles, while Donte Dennis made nine and Ryan Nani eight with 2.5 for a loss of yardage.



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