Nov. 29, 2008

Courtesy of James Madison

HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 29, 2008 – Senior quarterback Rodney Landers (Virginia Beach, Va./Tallwood) accounted for 292 total yards and four touchdowns, including the eventual game winner, as James Madison defeated Wofford 38-35 in the opening round of the NCAA Championship on Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field.


JMU, ranked first in both the Sports Network and Football Championship Subdivision won its 11th straight game to improve to 11-1 while #8 Wofford ends its season at 9-3.  The Dukes were playing at home in the FCS playoffs for the first time since a first round win over Troy State in 1994.


Clinging to a 31-28 lead, JMU came up with the defensive stop of the game.  On fourth and six for Wofford on the JMU 40-yard line, senior fullback Dane Romero was stopped six inches short of a first down.  It was the only time the Dukes stopped the Terriers on defense in the second half.


Landers responded by leading the Dukes on a 10-play, 65-yard drive in nearly six minutes to take a 38-28 lead with 3:21 remaining.  The entire drive consisted of rushes by Landers and senior tailback Eugene Holloman (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), capped by a tough six-yard push by Landers on third and goal.


Wofford responded with a 14-play, 56-yard drive in 2:19 with Mike Rucker scoring on a 12-yard run.  However, JMU junior receiver Bosco Williams (Clifton Forge, Va./Allegheny) covered the onside kick near the Wofford sideline to clinch the first playoff win for the Dukes since 2004.


Landers rushed 24 times for 166 net yards and the clinching touchdown while also completing eight of 15 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns.  The four total scores matched his career-high for total scores.


Holloman rushed 19 times for 116 yards and one touchdown.  Junior Rockeed McCarter (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic) caught three passes, two for scores, for 51 total yards while Williams had the other receiving touchdown.


Rucker led the Terriers in rushing with 11 carries for 107 yards and the final WC score.  Romero scored four touchdowns, all rushing, on 87 yards and 25 carries.  Quarterback Ben Widmyer rushed 22 times for 98 yards and competed eight of 14 passes for 94 yards.


The game was even statistically as JMU had 68 total plays for 469 yards, 343 on the ground and 126 through the air.  Wofford had 431 total yards on 74 plays with 301 on the ground and 130 passing.  Wofford had 27 first downs compared to 25 for the Dukes, while JMU had a four-minute edge in time of possession.


Wofford took its only lead of the game on a two-yard run by Romero in the first quarter after a nine-play, 78-yard drive.


JMU responded quickly with Holloman scoring on a 34-yard burst to cap a seven-play, 62-yard drive in three minutes.


The Dukes held the Terriers and then took their first lead on a 15-yard pass from Landers to McCarter after an 11-play JMU drive.


Wofford came back to tie it on an 12-play drive with an 11-yard scoring run by Romero.


JMU responded with a 27-yard scoring pass from Landers to Williams following a quick six-play, 48-yard drive that was set up by a 37-yard kickoff return by junior Scotty McGee (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes).


After a stop of the Terriers, JMU picked up a key additional score just before the half.  The Dukes drove 92 yards in 13 plays, taking 6:04 off the clock.  The drive included a fourth-and-four completion on the Wofford 44.  Then with 20 seconds remaining on first-and-10 at the 23-yard line, Landers faked a spike and found McCarter on a jump ball in the end zone for a 28-14 JMU halftime lead.


Wofford scored on its opening drive of the second half on a four-yard run by Romero after an eight-play, 75-yard drive.  JMU appeared poised to regain the two-score advantage until Landers threw an interception in the end zone that was picked off by Wofford’s Tommy Irvin.  Landers had not thrown a pick since Sept. 20 against Appalachian State.


The Terriers took advantage of the miscue, driving 73 yards on a 16-play drive in seven minutes with Romero scoring on a one-yard burst.


JMU drove down to the Wofford six-yard line before being held up and converting a 24-yard field goal by senior Dave Stannard (Midlothian, Va./Clover Hill) to take a 31-28 lead.


That set up the big defensive stop for JMU after Wofford drove 45 yards in three minutes.


As the top seed in the playoffs, JMU will host Villanova in the quarterfinals next Saturday, Dec. 6, at a time to be announced.  The Dukes defeated the Wildcats 23-19 on Oct. 25 in Pennsylvania.  VU advanced on Saturday with a 55-28 win over Colgate, one of four victories by the Colonial Athletic Association on the day.


NOTES: Landers became the fifth quarterback in FCS history to reach 3,000 career passing yards (3,116) and 3,000 career rushing yards (3,250)... Landers rose from eighth to fifth in career scoring at JMU with 198 points... Landers broke the JMU record for season total touchdowns with 33, previously held by Eriq Williams (1991) with 30... it was the 75th career win at JMU for head coach Mickey Matthews.