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Late Scores Lift No. 6 JMU over No. 24 LU

September 26, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Doncel Bolt battles the Dukes and the weather conditions to record one of his career-best 13 tackles during Liberty's game against James Madison on Saturday night.

Doncel Bolt battles the Dukes and the weather conditions to record one of his career-best 13 tackles during Liberty's game against James Madison on Saturday night.

A pair of fourth quarter touchdowns helped secure a 24-10 victory for No. 6 James Madison over No. 24 Liberty, Saturday night, in a game played in front of 15,532 fans at Williams Stadium, despite a steady downpour throughout the night.

The victory was the Dukes' second in a row over a Big South foe, following a 44-16 victory at home over VMI last weekend, and raises their record to 2-1. The loss evens the Flames' mark at 2-2 and ends Liberty's three-game winning streak against Top 25 programs.

The Dukes were the first team to dent the scoreboard, tallying three points as a result of their opening drive. James Madison chose to keep the ball on the ground for 11-consecutive plays, driving deep within Flames territory.

The Dukes' Drew Dudzik called his own number on the 11th play, rushing up the middle, but the quarterback gained just a yard and forced the visitors to settle for a field goal attempt. Dixon Wright knocked down the 35-yard attempt, ending the 80-yard drive with James Madison holding a 3-0 lead with 5:22 left to play in the opening quarter.

The ground game continued to be the ball movement mode of choice, as Liberty rushed on nine out of 10 plays on the ensuing drive. However, the lone passing play saw the largest gain on the 80-yard drive.

On third-and-20, quarterback Tommy Beecher scrambled away from three would-be tacklers behind the line of scrimmage. The senior hurler escaped enough to find Chris Summers open deep down field, as the sophomore hauled in a 43-yard reception to the one-yard line.

Two plays later, Liberty's offensive line cleared enough room for Beecher to push the ball across the goal line, giving Liberty a 7-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter. The drive ate up 5:28 on the game clock and gave the Flames a four-point lead at the 14:54 mark.

Later during the second period, Liberty was forced to punt the ball away following its first three-and-out series of the evening. Dudzik completed his first pass of the night on the JMU drive's opening play, completing a 16-yard pass play to Mike Caussin.

Two plays later, Jamal Sullivan got the visitors down to the Liberty four yard line with a bruising run, taking a handoff from Dudzik and dragging three Flame defenders for a 17-yard gain.

After a one-yard gain by Dudzik, Sullivan found a hole opened by the right tackle large enough to get the Dukes into the end zone for the first time on the night. The five-yard run finished off a quick five-play, 46-yard drive, giving James Madison a 10-7 lead with 5:14 left in the first half.

The Flames gave the ball away on their next drive, as Beecher's attempted sideline pass was picked off by D.J. Bryant at the 38-yard line, giving the visitors the ball back with three minutes left before the intermission.

The Dukes kept the ball on the ground for six out of the next seven plays, driving to the Liberty nine-yard line with 31 seconds left on the clock.

James Madison's second quarterback, Justin Thorpe, decided to air the ball out on the ensuing play, but his pass was intercepted by Donald Manns in the corner of the end zone. Liberty a knee on the next play and headed into the locker room down three points, 10-7.

In an effort to fight the driving rains throughout the first half, both teams combined to run the ball 43 times during the half's 54 total combined offensive plays.

Sullivan was the largest ground gainer for either team, as the tailback gained 80 yards on 12 rushing attempts. Thorpe followed for the Dukes, rushing seven times for 28 yards during the opening 30 minutes.

Mike Brown, B.J. Hayes and Aldreakis Allen each finished the first half with three rushing attempts, with Brown picking up the most yardage (32 yards).

Beecher completed 4-of-8 passing attempts for 79 yards. Thorpe was 2-of-3 for 17 yards, while Dudzik completed his lone attempt for 16 yards.

When the teams took to the field for the second half, they were welcomed back to the turf by increasingly stronger rain than the first 30 minutes of play.

And the weather conditions seemed to play a factor, as the Dukes turned the ball over on consecutive drives. On the ninth play of the quarter, Dudzik saw his pass play on third-and-18 intercepted by KaJuan Lee.

Nearly four minutes later, another third-and-long play caused James Madison to fumble the ball away. The snap by center Donny Smith was mishandled and the loose ball was picked up by Trey Jacobs, giving Liberty the football at the James Madison 43-yard line.

Nine straight rushing plays saw the Flames drive to the James Madison nine-yard line, but the drive stalled and Liberty had to settle for a field goal. Matt Bevins knocked down a 27-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter, knotting the game at 10-10.

However, the lead was short lived, as Corwin Acker was given the ball on the first play of the Dukes' next possession, and the sophomore found an opening on the left side of the field. The tailback quickly got to the sideline and he just outdistanced several Flames defenders, scoring on a 65-yard play which gave the visitors a 17-10 advantage, just 20 seconds after Liberty had knotted things up.
Neither team was successful at moving the ball over the next four drives, moving the ball a combined 69 yards on 18 plays.

With just under three minutes left in the game, Liberty received one last chance to tie the game, when the Flames took over following a punt at its own 26-yard line.

However, three plays later, Beecher attempted to keep the drive alive on a third-and-14 play. His pass across the middle of the field was intercepted by Griff Yancey, who returned the errant throw 34 yards to the 13-yard line.

On the next play, Acker rushed up the middle and found the end zone for the second time on the evening, securing the Dukes' 10th victory in the 15-game series between the two programs.

Acker was the primary offensive force for James Madison, as the running back finished with 12 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Sullivan followed behind him by carrying the ball 15 times for 93 yards and the Dukes' third rushing touchdown on the night.

Liberty was held under 100 rushing yards for just the fifth time under head coach Danny Rocoo, as the Flames finished the game with 96 yards on 34 attempts. Brown picked up the most yardage, rushing 12 times for 56 yards.

Beecher finished the night by completing 5-of-15 passing attempts for 114 yards. The Dukes only attempted eight passing plays, with Dudzik going 2-of-5 (30 yards) and Thorpe connecting on two of his three passes (17 yards).

Summers was the leading receiver for either team, as the sophomore caught three passes for 85 yards. Caussin was the Dukes' leading wide out, catching two passes for 23 yards.

Liberty's inside linebacking tandem of Doncel Bolt and Chad Brown finished the night as the leading tacklers in the game. Bolt ended the game with a career-best 13 tackles, while Chad Brown also had a career game with 11 stops.

James Madison's leading defender was Arthur Moats, as the defensive end came up with nine stops on the night. Jon Williams and Sam Daniels followed with seven stops apiece.

The Flames will continue a three-game homestand next weekend when they welcome the Bobcats of West Virginia Wesleyan to Williams Stadium. The game, which will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs, is slated to kick off at 3:30 p.m.