Harrisonburg was the center of the CAA football world as conference heavyweights James Madison and Towson engaged in a sumo wrestling match for three quarters and concluded with 10 minutes of offense.
Quarterback Justin Thorpe’s two-minute drill was the difference as JMU bounced the Tigers 13-10 in front of 25,000 at Bridgeforth Stadium.
Towson dice roller Rob Ambrose, who went for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 17 on the go-ahead scoring drive earlier in the fourth quarter, told reporters afterward: “I don’t want to slight the previous team we just played, but given the choice between the two, I don’t want to play the Dukes again – at least until later.”
A bit of gamesmanship and conference respect, to be sure, since Towson had lost at LSU the week before. Given a choice, no one would prefer to play LSU over James Madison.
Told of Ambrose’s remark, JMU coach Mickey Matthews responded that he’d like to be paid what Les Miles makes.
Elsewhere around the league, Maine stuffed Delaware in Newark, completing the Blue Hens’ two-week face-plant against the norther tier. Richmond took advantage of Villanova’s generosity for a road win.
New Hampshire predictably dismantled the Fighting Currys in Atlanta, a game punctuated by a $10,000 cash voucher drop for students at halftime on the floor of the Georgia Dome. Georgia State got the idea for the promotion from football recruiting weekends at Auburn.
Injury-plagued William and Mary was forced to play a pretzel vendor at quarterback and still held off Penn at Franklin Field. The Rhode Island Conference Wafflers again were offensively challenged in a loss to state rival Brown.
In an era of spread offenses and pitching it around, JMU and Towson engaged in some old school, smashmouth, defensive football. Towson had the ball for 11 more minutes and ran 16 more plays, which were offset in part by three turnovers.
Much like a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, most of the drama came in the final 10 minutes. Towson QB Grant Enders led a 92-yard drive, that included the 4th-and-1 from his own 17, that took up nearly 7 1/2 minutes for the go-ahead touchdown. Thorpe then counterpunched, engineering a 79-yard drive and running the last nine yards for the winning TD.
Dean Marlowe’s second interception clinched the win in the final seconds. Towson totaled 317 yards, JMU just 256. The two teams combined for just 402 yards of offense in the first 50 minutes, before the back-to-back TD drives.
William and Mary found some offensive traction and made just enough plays in the second half to hold off Penn 34-28. Quarterback Brent Caprio, the Game One starter and the latest call-up on the Tribe QB carousel, was 18-for-28 for 228 yards and two touchdowns, with zero picks.
Tre McBride continued his emergence, with seven catches for 128 yards and a TD. The Tribe defense was better in the first half than the second. Linebacker Jabrel Mines forced and recovered a fumble that led to a short-field TD drive in the first half, then stuffed Penn QB Billy Ragone on 4th-and-goal at the 2 to snuff out a second-half drive.
Cornerback B.W. Webb knocked down a pass in the end zone on the game’s final play to preserve the Tribe’s second win. W&M has scored 69 points in its last two games, after totaling 58 in its first four.
Richmond was aided by four Villanova turnovers in a 28-17 win on the Main Line. One of ‘Nova QB John Robertson’s three interceptions was in the red zone late in the first half with the score tied. A second came deep in his own territory in the fourth quarter, leading to a 9-yard Spiders’ TD drive and a 28-17 lead.
Spiders’ QB John Laub accounted for 312 yards passing and running, and two touchdowns.
Maine bounced Delaware 26-3 as defensive end Michael Cole and the Black Bears’ defense treated Hens’ QB Trent Hurley like a chew toy, sacking him nine times. Cole registered five sacks, and Maine QB Marcus Wasilewski was 12-for-18 for 176 yards and three scores.
Delaware netted only 47 yards rushing, a misleading stat given that the Hens had 111 yards in losses, due to sacks and assorted botchery. The bigger issue is nagging injuries to top backs Andrew Pierce and David Hayes.
Going back to last week’s loss to New Hampshire, in its past seven quarters, Delaware was outscored by UNH and Maine 60-10.
UNH compiled 624 yards and built a 38-7 lead on the way to a 44-21 win against the Currys. Nico Steriti and Jimmy Owens combined for 246 yards rushing, and QB Andy Valais threw for 252 yards and four touchdowns.
Brown topped winless Rhode Island 17-7 at Kingston in front of 3,300 hearty souls who weren’t interested in peak fall foliage. Rhody is dead last in FCS in scoring (7.6 ppg) and total offense (208.6 ypg).
Be thankful that the Rams do not face Old Dominion this season. Speaking of which, the Monarchs, the nation’s No. 1 scoring and total offense outfit, were held without a point or a yard by the schedule makers. The Monarchs still committed eight penalties for 70 yards.
Bobby Wilder sent video of empty Foreman Field, littered with penalty flags, to CAA officials supervisor Jim Maconaghy, FBI director Robert Mueller, Justice Department head Eric Holder and late-night radio talk show host Art Bell. Wilder still said he doesn’t believe there is a conspiracy to get his team.