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Dukes Edge Flames in Top 25 Defensive Battle

September 25, 2010  Harrisonburg, Va.  RSS
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Kyle O'Donnell finished the game with No. 3/3 James Madison with a career-high 14 tackles.

Kyle O'Donnell finished the game with No. 3/3 James Madison with a career-high 14 tackles.

No. 3/3 James Madison used a third-quarter field goal to give the Dukes a cushion and then outlasted the No. 22/21 Liberty in a defensive struggle, claiming a 10-3 victory inside of Bridgeforth Stadium.

The victory keeps James Madison unbeaten on the season and ups the Dukes' record to 3-0. The loss, Liberty's second in row, drops the Flames' record to 2-2 and closes out a three-game road swing.

The game remained scoreless until the fourth play of the second quarter, but it was a play late in the first quarter that allowed Liberty to take the early 3-0 edge.

Liberty's second drive of the game stalled at its own 32-yard line, following a deep pass downfield from Mike Brown to Chris Summers along the sideline. However, punter Mike Larsson was interfered with on the attempted punt, giving Liberty 15 extra yards and a new set of downs.

Brown completed his next four pass attempts to drive Liberty down to the goal line, but his floating pass to tight end Tommy Shaver in the endzone was just out of the reach of the tight end, forcing Liberty to settle for three points. Matt Bevins' 19-yard field goal at the 13:28 mark of the second completed an 18-play, 95-yard drive that ate up 9:40 on the game clock and staked Liberty to the early lead.

The score remained the same until the waning minutes of the first half. For the second time in the half, Liberty crossed midfield, getting to the Dukes' 31-yard line, which prompted head coach Danny Rocco to elect to go for it on fourth and a short one. But for the third time this year, Liberty was shut down on a fourth-down play, as Brown was not able to get the nose of the football beyond the yardage marker.

Two plays later, James Madison quarterback Drew Dudzik showed his athleticism, as the redshirt senior got outside the pocket and scampered 39 yards downfield to Liberty 25-yard line. On the next play, the quarterback dropped back and found a wide-open Griff Yancey for a score, giving James Madison the 7-3 edge with 53 seconds left in the period.

Following the quick scoring drive at the end of the half, James Madison headed into the locker room at the intermission with a 164-149 total offensive yardage edge. Liberty picked up most of its yardage via the passing game (102 yards), while James Madison rushed for the same amount of yards (102) on 16 carries.

Following a three-and-out series to open the second half for James Madison, Liberty managed to once again drive to James Madison's 30-yard line. However, a 47-yard field goal attempt by Bevins was blocked at the line of scrimmage, keeping the score the same on Bevin's fifth 40-plus yard attempt of the year.

The blocked field goal by the Dukes eventually led to three additional points for the home squad. James Madison elected to keep the ball on the ground for eight of the next drive's nine plays.

On a third-and-two play from Liberty's four-yard line, Danny Broggin and Terry Adams were able to get behind the line of scrimmage and stop Scott Nobles for a one-yard loss, leaving James Madison to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Dixon Wright with 6:23 left in the third quarter.

The remainder of the game belonged to the defensive players, as the two squad's offensive players managed to pick up just seven additional first downs during the last 21 minutes of the contest.

Liberty managed to cross the 50-yard line on two of its last four drives of the evening. The last time the Flames touched the football, Liberty found itself needing to piece together a 79-yard touchdown drive with just over three and half minutes left to play.

Brown found Shaver open on a 16-yard strike over the middle of the field on the first play, but three plays later, the quarterback was flushed from the pocket, forcing a deep pass downfield. But the pass was picked off, as Taveion Coffee was able to step in front of the effort and pull it in just before he fell out of bounds.

James Madison kept the ball on the ground for the next three plays, including a game-sealing three-yard effort by Nobles, who got to the outside and was able to stretch the football out just enough to get first down and allow the home squad to run the rest of the game clock out.

The second 30 minutes of the game was even more of a defensive effort, as James Madison finished the last two quarters with 119 total offensive yards to Liberty's 115.

Liberty's game-ending 264 total offensive yards marks the eighth time Liberty has failed to cross the 300-yard threshold in the five years under Rocco. It is also the second-straight game Liberty has failed to finish a game against James Madison with more than 300 total offensive yards after finished last year's rain-soaked contest with 217 total offensive yards.

The game also marked the second time that Liberty has finished a game in the last five years without a touchdown. The last was a 10-3 loss at Towson on Sept. 16, 2006.

Brown finished as Liberty's No. 1 rusher for the third week in a row. The quarterback rushed for 26 yards on 11 carries. Korrey Davis led the team in rushing attempts, finishing the game with 13 carries for 25 of Liberty's 61 team rushing yards. Nobles was James Madison's No. 1 rusher with 17 carries for 89 yards.

Brown finished the game by completing 21-of-32 for 203 yards, while his counterpart, Dudzik, was 6-of-14 for 78 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown late in the second quarter.

Summers was Liberty's top receiver, finishing the game with eight catches for 66 yards, while Yancey caught two passes for 56 yards and the game's lone touchdown.

Kyle O'Donnell had a career night and led all tacklers with 14 stops, including 10 assisted tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Doncel Bolt followed with nine stops, including six solo tackles, followed by Chad Brown's eight-tackle effort.

Following three road games in a row, Liberty will return to Williams Stadium next weekend for the grand re-opening of its on-campus facility. During the last nine months, the stadium has undergone an extensive renovation, expanding the stadium seating capacity from 12,000 to 19,200 and adding a five-story press and suite tower.

Liberty will welcome Savannah State to Williams Stadium next weekend for the festive event that will including the honoring of Liberty's second Athletics Hall of Fame class. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.