James Madison, the defending FCS national champion? It's almost as if they never left the field in Frisco, Texas. East Carolina, an FBS program that a little more than two years ago gave the Florida Gators fits in a bowl game, were pounded into submission by a more physical FCS program.
The final tally? James Madison won 34-14 in Greenville, N.C.
Cardon Johnson was reintroduced to Dukes football after his midseason injury last year, rushing for 265 yards and a pair of scores against the only FBS team on the JMU schedule this year. Johnson split carries with HERO Sports All American Khalid Abdullah the first half of the 2016 season before going down to injury.
Abdullah was a big part of how 2016's successful campaign ended — he found out this week that he would be waived by the New York Giants, and he's now hoping for an NFL option.
It was the FCS' second 2017 win over an FBS team after Tennessee State beat Georgia State on Thursday.
James Madison hasn't fallen now since a September 2016 loss to Mitch Trubisky and North Carolina, going on nearly 12 months without a loss. Quarterback Bryan Schor threw for 192 yards and a touchdown, while Ga. Tech transfer Marcus Marshall rushed for 88 yards and a score. Kyre Hawkins led the team in tackles with 13, while Jimmy Moreland had 11 tackles. Rashad Robinson had 2 INTs in the winning performance. [divider]
It really was a Saturday of almosts, and no … almosts don't count. But, when you're playing with 62 scholarships on the home field of a team with 85 scholarships, and about 98 percent of the fans screaming at you, it's worthy of note at the very least.
FCS national runner up Youngstown State almost joined its FCS title foe James Madison with an FBS win Saturday. The Penguins took Pitt to overtime before falling, the second FCS team to go OT with an FBS team in 72 hours (The CAA's Rhode Island being the other). Stony Brook pushed South Florida down in Tampa and Missouri State gave Mizzou fits for a couple of quarters. Granted, they didn't end up as wins, but were good efforts.
The Villanova–Lehigh game may have been the only FCS vs. FCS battle Saturday that featured two future FCS Playoff teams. But the question coming in was critical — could the Mountain Hawks shake off their last game against a CAA powerhouse, New Hampshire, and prove themselves?
Well, they did.
Lehigh gave Villanova everything it wanted, though the Wildcats did come out on top 38-35. Last year in the playoffs it was all UNH with Lehigh's offensive juggernaut getting shut down by nearly 40 points. This time around, Lehigh QB Brad Mayes was good for 406 yards passing and 4 TDs against what was one of the FCS' top defenses in 2016.
Lehigh looks like one of the scariest teams in the Patriot League. This may go down as a win for 'Nova, but Lehigh can't be majorly disappointed. This was easily the toughest team Lehigh will face in the regular season.