December 18, 2017
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No. 1 James Madison pulls away to beat UMaine football team


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HARRISONBURG, Virginia — The University of Maine football team led No. 1/1 James Madison 14-10 early in the third quarter. However, three unanswered second half touchdowns by the Dukes allowed them to take the lead and ultimately capture the victory, 28-10, on Saturday afternoon in front of 25,330 fans at Bridgeforth Stadium.

Josh Mack led the way for the Maine offense, rushing for 144-yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. The total marked the third-straight game in which Mack has rushed for 100-yards or more, and the sixth time he has gone over the century mark on the ground.

Defensively, the Black Bears were impressive despite facing a James Madison offense which ranked at the top of the Colonial Athletic Association in several categories. Maine was able to hold the Dukes, who entered averaging 53.7 points per game, to its lowest point total of the season. The Black Hole also limited James Madison, which entered action averaging 334.7 yards on the ground, to 191 rush yards.

Sterling Sheffield was the highlight on defense, finishing with eight tackles and 2.5 sacks. Sheffield has now notched a tackle for loss in six-straight games, recording his eighth and ninth career sacks to go along with his third interception. Taji Lowe added a career-high 10 stops

Maine and James Madison engaged in a defensive battle over the opening 15-minutes of action. Sheffield pulled down his third career interception in the first quarter as Maine and James Madison ended the first frame scoreless. The Black Hole defense was able to keep the Dukes off the board, making it the first time since Dec. 5, 2015 that JMU was unable to score in the opening quarter.

However, the Dukes were able to break the scoreless tie when Bryan Schor led an 11 play, 89-yard drive, ending when he found Jonathan Kloosterman in the back of the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown. The first score of the game coming with 8:28 left in the second quarter.

After forcing a JMU three-and-out, Maine’s offense took over on its own 44 with 3:37 to play in the half. Faced with a third and three, Ferguson scrambled out and found Mack for a 15-yard gain. The Black Bears continued to move, reaching the JMU 23 before Brandon Briggs came on and knocked through a 40-yard field goal. For Briggs, it was his first career field goal, and Maine’s longest hit since Sean Decloux’s 42-yard make on Nov. 14, 2015 against Elon.

The Black Bears were able to hold the CAA’s top scoring offense (53.7 points per game) to just seven in the first half and entered the locker room trailing, 7-3.

Maine’s offense came out of the break hot, beginning with a great diving catch by Jaquan Blair for an 11-yard gain. After a review, the catch was confirmed, giving Maine first down at its own 40. Just two plays later, Mack smashed through the line and was off to the races, tying a career-long scoring run with a 60-yard touchdown. The score gave Maine its first lead of the game, 10-7, just 1:48 into the third quarter.

The Dukes answered two drives later when Schor hit David Eldridge for a 22-yard score. The touchdown put JMU back on top, 14-10, with 9:12 left in the third.

After a pass interference call put the Dukes at the Maine four yard-line, the Black Hole came up with another big time play. JMU’s Tray Sharp fumbled the ball just before the goal line and Deshawn Stevens was able to pounce on the loose ball, giving it back to the Black Bears at their own one.

The Dukes took advantage of a Maine turnover, turning an interception into a score with 12:07 to play. Schor completed his third touchdown pass of the day, this time finding Taylor Woods for nine-yards, giving JMU a 21-10 lead.

The lead stretched to 28-10 when Schor found Ezrah Archie for the fourth touchdown pass of the day for the Dukes, this one coming with 6:29 on the clock in the fourth quarter.

The score would hold, pushing James Madison’s win streak to 16.

Maine will have another bye week before jumping back into CAA action on Oct. 7 when it travels to take on Villanova.

 


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