NCAA

No. 2 JMU's stingy defense sets sights on Richmond

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No. 2 JMU's stingy defense sets sights on Richmond

Led by a grudging defense and coming off thrilling double-overtime victory, No. 2 James Madison heads to Richmond for an in-state matchup against one of the few teams with a superior head-to-head record against the Dukes.

Sitting alone atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings, the Dukes (5-1, 3-0) nearly lost that lofty perch their last time out but prevailed for a 27-26 win over William and Mary. To remain unbeaten they must go out on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) and beat a Spiders (4-3, 2-2) squad that averages a robust 35.3 points per game.

That hasn't always been easy for James Madison, which is on the short end of a 16-13 series matchup, though the teams have split 14 games played at Robins stadium. Last season in Harrisonburg, the Dukes racked up 297 rushing yards and seven quarterback sacks in a 31-7 triumph.

Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe is responsible for a good chunk of the Dukes running these days - not to mention, duh, winning. The dual threat option leads the team with 394 yards and four touchdowns while tailback Dae'Quan Scott has racked up 334 yards and five touchdowns on the season, including the go-ahead score against the Tribe.

Thorpe also directs a diverse passing attack where 13 players have caught pass, led by tight end Brian Barlow (16-237-1). James Madison has won 14 straight FCS games with Thorpe under center.

Yet it's on the other side of the ball where the Dukes truly make their mark. In five games against FCS programs, JMU has allowed only six touchdowns and an average of 10.6 points per game.

Playing in the Dukes 4-3 scheme, linebacker Stephon Robertson led JMU in tackles in four of six games, tallying a career-high 14 in a win over No. 12 Towson. Up front, Brandon Lee finished with a career-high eight tackles in the win over William and Mary while fellow defensive end Sage Harold had two sacks against Richmond last season.

The Dukes' defense will contend with Richmond's pro-style offense, helmed by senior quarterback John Laub, who ranks second in the CAA passing yards (246) and total offense (296) per game. Junior wide receiver Ben Edwards tops the conference with 51 receptions

Jackson, Peoples lead No. 13 Hokies past ODU, 38-0

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Jackson, Peoples lead No. 13 Hokies past ODU, 38-0

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Steven Peoples had scored three career touchdowns for No. 13 Virginia Tech heading into Saturday's game against Old Dominion.

Now he's scored six, including a right-place-at-the-right-time deflection that turned his good day into a career day.

On the play, Peoples ran a wheel route and was a few steps behind Hokies start receiver Cam Phillips. Both were well covered, but quarterback Josh Jackson let fly from near midfield as the four players approached the end zone. The ball went to Phillips, but in the scramble with the defender, it bounced away, right into Peoples' arms for a 43-yard touchdown.

"I sat back and was waiting for Cam to catch it," Peoples said, noting Phillips' reputation for catching the ball in traffic. "As soon as it bounced off him, I caught the ball and I was like, `Man, that was a big-time catch.'"

On the sideline, while teammates celebrated, Jackson got a talking-to from coach Justin Fuente.

"Not for public consumption," Fuente said what asked what he told the redshirt freshman. "Not happy. We got lucky on that one so I made sure he knew about it. He's smart. He's tough. He understands stuff and he's still young."

Said Jackson: "That was the first touchdown I've ever felt bad after throwing."

Jackson threw for two more scores -- a 17-yard screen pass to Peoples and a diving 5-yarder to C.J. Carroll -- as the Hokies (4-0) finished their non-conference schedule unbeaten for the first time since 2011. Peoples also scored on a 1-yard run.

Virginia Tech started slowly for the second consecutive game, leading just 3-0 after the first quarter, but scored on four consecutive drives after getting untracked. The Hokies have scored 95 consecutive points since falling behind 17-7 at East Carolina last week.

The Monarchs (2-2), playing an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent for the second week in a row, fell to 0-9 against Power Five schools.

The game was the first meeting between the schools and featured the first career start for 17-year-old Old Dominion quarterback Steven Williams Jr. He showed a nifty ability to escape the Hokies' pass rush, getting sacked just once, but completed just 8 of 26 for 85 yards. Monarchs receivers didn't help by dropping several balls, including one that Travis Fulgham could have taken 75 yards for a touchdown.

"He didn't get a lot of help out there today," coach Bobby Wilder said after his team barely made it across midfield all game. "There were four of five times where we needed to make a catch, we needed to make a play, and we didn't."

Williams took it in stride.

"It's just part of the game. We know we need to clean that up," he said. "We have to be more aggressive. If we find our run game, we're going to be fine."

Jackson was 20 for 30 for 298 yards and has now thrown for 11 touchdowns. He did throw his first interception of the season against the Monarchs, but the Hokies took the ball away three plays later, leading to their first touchdown midway through the second quarter.

Hypocrisy of NCAA loud and clear with Maryland Football promotion

Hypocrisy of NCAA loud and clear with Maryland Football promotion

The NCAA is a dumb and monumentally stupid organization with rules that often don't make sense for the student-athletes they govern. One of those is paying, or more specifically not paying, athletes.

In an incredible twist of irony, Maryland will give one lucky regular student (that isn't an athlete) $10,000 for something an athlete (not a regular student) could potentially perform on the football field.

This is a highly specific play that will have to happen in order for one lucky student (again, not an athlete) to win the money, but the hypocrisy is incredible and this entire situation is so backward.

A student-athlete could score a touchdown (while not being paid) for the university and while scoring said touchdown will be helping make money for the university (money they will never see a dime from). The university will then turn around and give money to a student who did nothing to earn it, except decide to stay around in the second half for a game that is expected to be lightly attended, thanks to the achievement of a student-athlete who is incapable of receiving said money. 

That makes sense. Totally.

This comes on the heels of a report earlier this week that Division 1 coaches were "spooked" and against new rules that would allow students who met a minimum GPA to transfer and have immediate eligibility.

This is all totally fine.

Anyway, I can't believe someone didn't see the irony here and think "eh, we just had one of the biggest upsets of the weekend and should have a better way to capitalize on our momentum with something cool to entice people to stick around against Towson?"

I guess not.

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