Liberty beats James Madison 26-20 for program's first win in FCS playoffs
HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Liberty scored three times and held the James Madison potent offense in check in the second half, allowing the Flames to advance in the NCAA FCS playoffs with a 26-21 win, Saturday afternoon, at Bridgeforth Stadium.
With the victory, Liberty's first FCS playoff win in program history, the Flames raise their record to 9-4. The Flames advance to the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs and will face No. 6 national seed Villanova. Kickoff from Villanova Stadium will be 4:30 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The loss snaps James Madison's seven-game winning streak and ends the Dukes season with a 9-4 overall record.
The Flames limited James Madison to 65 yards of total offense during the decisive second half. James Madison came into the game ranked No. 8 in the country, averaging 497.0 total offensive yards per game. The Dukes finished the contest with 336 total offensive yards on 71 plays to Liberty's 397 yards on 73 plays.
Liberty's Josh Woodrum, who missed the last two games due to injury, finished the game completing 18 of 27 passing attempts for 244 yards.
James Madison's Vad Lee, a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, finished the game completing 18 of 35 passing attempts for 139 yards and a touchdown. The junior came into the game averaging 276.9 passing yards per game.
Liberty's D.J. Abnar (17 carries for 69 yards) and Todd Macon (13 carries for 40 yards) led the charge for the Flames' ground game that finished with 153 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Abnar scored twice, giving the junior 15 rushing touchdowns on the year, which ties for fourth best for a single season in program history.
Duke's running back Jauan Latney led the Duke's rushing attack, carrying the ball 15 times for 119 yards. The redshirt senior gained 73 of those yards on James Madison's first score of the contest in the second quarter.
Gabe Henderson led the Flames' receivers for the second week in a row, finishing the game with seven receptions for 92 yards. The Dukes' top receiver was Brandon Ravenel, who finished the game with seven receptions for 54 yards.
Justin Guillory led Liberty's stout defensive effort. He finished the game with a career-best 13 tackles. His previous career high was five tackles earlier this year against North Carolina.
James Madison had four different players finish the game with double figures in tackles, led by a dozen stops from Taylor Reynolds and Dean Marlowe.