BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Mustangs trailed the James Madison University Dukes for most of the game Saturday night. For a moment, it appeared the Ponies had rallied for a fairy tale ending to SMU’s 100 year anniversary homecoming game, as they scored a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes to overcome a 10 point deficit and lead 45-41. Unfortunately, there was a bit more than two minutes left in the game when they took the lead, and the Dukes easily executed their two minute offensive drill after receiving the ensuing kickoff to put the winning touchdown on the board with just seconds remaining in the game. That gave JMU a 48-45 win.
There is disappointment in the Mustang nation over losing to an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) team. It was just the fifth time this season that an FCS team (formerly known as Division I-AA) has beaten an FBS team (Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A), but this James Madison team is very good and is capable of beating a lot of FBS teams. The Dukes clearly dominated this game statistically as their prolific offense racked up 729 yards. JMU is 4-0, and has amassed at least 600 total yards on offense in each of the four games.
JMU’s quarterback, Vad Lee, romped seemingly at will against the porous Mustang defense. The Georgia Tech transfer, who was a third team FCS All-American last year, ran for 276 yards on 20 carries and passed for 289 more, as he completed 20 of 33 passes. His quarterback rating for the game was 146! The 565 yards of total offense smashed the old school record of 478, which Lee had set previously. He was named FCS “Player of the Week” for the second time this season with the performance.
The good news for the Mustangs came on the offensive side of the ball. They scored a season high 45 points, as each week, the Ponies have scored more than their previous game. The record reads 1-3, but SMU has scored 134 points in those four games, one more point than they scored in 12 games last season.
Courtland Sutton continues to establish himself as one of the top receivers in the conference, if not the country. He caught five passes for 137 yards. One went for a touchdown, his fifth of the year. He has scored a TD in each game so far this year.
Quarterback Matt Davis was 18-30 for 262 passing yards. He also ran the ball 17 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. It was the third straight game in which he scored two touchdowns.
The two freshmen running backs also had nice games. Xavier Jones ran the ball 17 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns, while Braeden West gained 61 yards on eight carries. One of his runs went for a touchdown.
The Mustangs host East Carolina University this weekend to open American Athletic Conference play. Game time is 3:00 PM Saturday. The Pirates are 2-2 on the season coming off a 35-28 win over Virginia Tech last weekend. A check of seven Las Vegas betting lines has ECU favored by five points on three, 5.5 points on three and six points on one.
* Field goal kicker Chad Hedlund hit a career long field goal of 52 yards. That ties him for the seventh longest field goal in SMU history.
* SMU’s defense did have three interceptions, and the Mustangs also recovered an on-sides kick. All four resulted in SMU scores.
* JMU moved up to number six in the FCS Top 25 poll this week.