James Madison Looks To Lock Up CAA Title Against Richmond

HIGHLIGHTS: Richmond vs Villanova

An outright Colonial Athletic Association championship is at stake for James Madison on Senior Day 2019. The Dukes carry a nine-game win streak and the only perfect mark in what has otherwise been a chaotic CAA season against a Richmond team needing a big win to stay in the postseason hunt.

Who: Richmond (5-5, 4-2 CAA) at No. 2 James Madison (9-1, 6-0 CAA) 

When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET 

Where: Bridgeforth Stadium; Harrisonburg, Virginia 

Watch: LIVE on FloFootball

The Spiders dropped a 35-28 heartbreaker in Week 11 at Villanova, putting them behind the eight ball in the chase for the FCS Playoffs. Still, the near-miss on the road demonstrated once again how tough Russ Huesman’s team can be on a given week. 

James Madison’s come out ahead in a few similar tests, but the Dukes have cranked up the intensity of late. They drilled New Hampshire last week, 54-16. 

“We’re on a mission right now to finish this thing the right way,” said JMU quarterback Ben DiNucci. 

Locking up the conference championship in front of a home crowd would certainly qualify. 

Elite Pass Rushing

There are four big reasons that James Madison and Richmond rank first and second in the CAA in sacks: John Daka and Ron’Dell Carter; Maurice Jackson and Kobie Turner. 

These standout defensive line on each side of Saturday’s affair help set the tone for two of the most fearsome, pass-rush defenses in college football. Of course, it doesn’t end with the ends in either case; James Madison’s interior star Mike Greene contributes to the Dukes’ 31 sacks, which rank the Dukes ninth in the nation. 

“James Madison’s got a lot of talented guys up there,” Huesman said. “When you’ve got talented guys, you can rush the passer. When you get there with four – it doesn’t take six each time -- that helps.” 

For Richmond, Colby Ritten, Brandon Feamster and Tyler Dressler all have multiple sacks to complement the elite tag team of Jackson and Turner. 

Dangerous Dual-Threats

Two of the hottest quarterbacks anywhere in college football lead their teams into Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday. For James Madison’s DiNucci, this contest is a special one. He said having his parents on the field with him to celebrate Dukes’ Senior Day is an honor. 

Coming up with another big game, one week after he torched New Hampshire for three touchdowns, would make it all the more memorable. 

The Richmond defense’s performance against dual-threat quarterbacks in the last two weeks has had a high high – the Spiders forced Tyquell Fields of Stony Brook to a one-yard rushing, 12-of-25 passing day – and a frustrating low. Villanova’s Dan Smith went 20-of-28 passing and rushed for 105 yards with two touchdowns last week.

James Madison won’t rely as heavily on DiNucci as a ball-carrier, given the Dukes backfield rotation is the deepest in the nation, but he has the wheels to scramble when under duress. 

Richmond has used Joe Mancuso as more of a ball-carrier, and he’s delivered against quality opponents. Last week at Villanova, Mancuso rushed for a team-high 89 yards with two touchdowns, and passed for another two scores. 

It was his second two passing touchdown, two rushing touchdown performance in as many weeks.  

“He’s got a really live arm, he runs the ball effectively,” Huesman said of Mancuso. “He’s cut down on his mistakes.” 

Can Richmond Avoid The Run?

Last week in the late first quarter, New Hampshire extended its lead to 10-3 on a Jason Hughes field goal. James Madison preceded to score the game’s next 41 points and only punted after the decision was well in hand. 

Villanova led the Dukes going into the fourth quarter of their Oct. 12 affair. The Dukes scored 21 straight on a 26-yard DiNucci pass to Brandon Polk; an 83-yard MJ Hampton pick-six; and a 69-yard Latrele Palmer run. 

James Madison’s spurtability comes from a variety of sources, and it’s been close to unstoppable this season. While Richmond has weapons – like kickoff return expert Aaron Dykes – a methodical, ball-control style may be the Spiders’ best bet. 

Richmond’s won some marquee games this season with its ability to grind down the tempo, including against a high-scoring UAlbany team. 

Dominant JMU Pitches First Playoff Shutout, Rolls Past Northern Iowa

Inside The Rise Of Curt Cignetti

James Madison is one win away from punching its ticket to Frisco, Texas, thanks to an absolutely dominant defensive effort that led to a 17-0 victory over sixth-ranked Northern Iowa in the FCS quarterfinal round on Friday night.

Familiar Foes: CAA, MVFC Meet For 22nd Time When JMU Hosts UNI

Friday night's national quarterfinal showdown between James Madison and Northern Iowa marks the 22nd all-time meeting of Colonial Athletic Association and Missouri Valley Football Conference programs in the FCS Playoffs. 

Dominant Defenses Collide At Bridgeforth When JMU Hosts UNI

James Madison and Northern Iowa meet in Friday’s national quarterfinals with a similar look – and we’re not just referring to purple-gold-and-white uniforms. 

JMU's Ron'Dell Carter Named Finalist For Buck Buchanan Award

Ron'Dell Carter Has Arrived

James Madison senior defensive end Ron’Dell Carter has been voted one of three finalists for the 2019 STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding defensive player at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level.

JMU Is Hitting On All Cylinders Heading Into Quarterfinal Round

Rashad Robinson's Ready For His Close-Up

No. 2 overall seed James Madison kicked off its 2019 FCS Playoffs in a fashion indicative of how the Dukes have played all season. 

JMU Crushes Monmouth As Myriad Program Records Fall

CAA champion James Madison piled up a program playoff record 623 yards of total offense and hammered 14th-ranked Monmouth 66-21 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.

Dukes By The Numbers: JMU Has Been Even More Dominant Than You Realize

HIGHLIGHTS: JMU vs William & Mary

Statistically speaking, James Madison has been one of the best teams in college football throughout the 2019 season. 

JMU's Offensive Line Is Paving The Way For A Title Run

Sessions playing Call of Duty can get pretty heated among the James Madison offensive line. 

UAlbany's Defense Is Flexing Its Muscle At The Perfect Time

In a season with running back Karl Mofor leading the Colonial Athletic Association in rushing, quarterback Jeff Undercuffler leading the nation in passing touchdowns, and wide receivers Juwan Green and Jerah Reeves making one spectacular grab after another, the UAlbany offense garnering attention stands to reason. 

The Future Of UAlbany Football Is Being Constructed As We Speak

Although only 180 miles separate their campuses, it took more than a century for the game born at Rutgers University in 1869 to make its way to UAlbany.