Dukes' Defense Continues Strong Stretch

Greg Madia, Publisher
Dukes of JMU
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Daniel Lin/DN-R

HARRISONBURG — Raven Greene saw it coming.

The James Madison fifth-year senior safety knew exactly where to be when Norfolk State quarterback Tripp Harrington decided to throw the ball from his own end zone.

“Me and the guys actually talked about that specific situation occurring right before the play happened,” Greene said.

Greene picked off the pass, recording the 10th interception of his career, and first of this season. He said earlier in the week he watched film of Norfolk State try a similar play in a previous game.

“It was a perfect setup and I’m just glad he placed it where he did. I was able to get to it,” Greene said.

As a team, it was JMU’s fifth interception this season.

The Dukes are now tied for fifth in all of FCS for passes intercepted after Saturday’s 75-14 win over Norfolk State. JMU also ranks within the top 15 nationally for total defense (No. 5, 209.3 yards per game), scoring defense (No. 10, 12.7 points per game), rushing defense (No. 11, 56.7 yards per game) and passing defense (No. 15, 152.7 yards per game).

JMU held Norfolk State to 91 yards of total offense and without an offensive score, marking the second straight game the Dukes held their opponent without an offensive touchdown.

“We’re buying into the scheme and we’re playing together,” said senior defensive tackle Cornell Urquhart, who had three tackles and a sack against the Spartans. “I think chemistry is a major part in what we’ve been doing so far.”

No Update On Johnson Yet

Second-year JMU coach Mike Houston said after the game that he didn’t have an update on running back Cardon Johnson, who left in the second quarter with an injury.

After being tackled on a 1-yard carry, Johnson got up limping before collapsing to the ground after a few steps.

The Newport News native had to be helped off the field.

Last year, Johnson missed the final six games of the season with an Achilles injury.

He has started the first three games of the season for JMU and lifted the Dukes to beat FBS East Carolina in the season opener when he rushed for 265 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Ishmael Hyman didn’t dress for the game and was seen with a wrap on his right leg. Hyman caught two touchdown passes in Week 2 against East Tennessee State.

Shades Of Sam Houston State

Bryce Maginley’s blocked punt in the first quarter Saturday brought back memories of the Dukes’ 2016 national quarterfinal win over Sam Houston State for the sophomore linebacker.

“It was the same play exactly, but different people came free,” Maginley said “So instead of me scoring this time, it was me blocking the punt. So, it was kind déjà vu.”

Maginley registered a touchdown on a scoop-and-score off a blocked punt against the Bearkats to help JMU advance in the postseason.

This time, he was credited with a safety for two points after Norfolk State recovered the ball in its own end zone.

Freshmen See Action

One benefit of a runaway victory is that everyone gets to play.

Houston said every JMU player dressed and not redshirting this season participated in the 75-14 win over Norfolk State.

Freshman running back Percy Agyei-Obese ran 16 times for 103 yards and a touchdown,

“Percy got his first college carries and I thought he did pretty well for his first time out there,” Houston said.

Freshman wide receiver Braxton Westfield and freshman tight end Clayton Cheatham each recorded their first career touchdown catches.

Freshman wide receiver Ezrah Archie made his first career catch.

“The more experienced they get, the fewer butterflies they have,” Houston added. “So it only helps those guys improve for the next time they’re in there because the next time they’re in there, it could be with the game on the line.”

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