WVU - James Madison Game Preview

Div 1-AA James Madision travels to Morgantown looking for a pay day. The Mountaineers look to go 4-0 for the first time since 1996.

BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: First Meeting
When: 9/25, 4:00pm
Where: Morgantown
Stadium: Mountaineer Field
Record: 3-0
AP Rank: 6
Last Week: Maryland
Returning Starters: 16
Defense: 8
Offense: 8
Click for Touchdown City, West Virginia Forecast
Record: 2-0
AP Rank: n/a
Last Week: Villanova
Returning Starters: 18
Defense: 8
Offense: 10
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule
First Meeting: 2004
Last Meeting: N/a
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date: None


WVU - Erick Phillips (Knee) Out, Jeff Berk (Knee) Questionable, Ben Lynch (Shoulder) Probable, Kay Jay Harris (Leg) Probable, Scott Gyorko (Leg) Probable.

James Madison - None reported

Game Outlook:

Game Info
WVU 3-0, 0-0
JMU 2-0, 0-0
Sat: 9/25 4:00 pm
Mountaineer Field
Series: First Meeting
TV: None
WVU-33 JMU-87
Line: NL
Stats & Trends
WVU offense vs. JMU defense

If the visitors have any dreams of winning this game the JMU defense will need to have a huge game. So far this season, that unit has been up to the challenges they have faced. The Dukes' defense held Villanova to 122 total yards in last week's monsoon in Philadelphia and held Division II Lock Haven to 198 yards in a lopsided victory.

The defense is lead by senior Kwynn Walton (6-0, 220). The 1998 New York state player of the year has tallied 16 tackles, tying him for the team lead. The other starting linebacker will be Trey Townsend (6-1, 220). Townsend ranks third on the team with 13 stops and is first in tackles for a loss with four.

The smallish defensive line is led by senior tackle Brandon Beach (6-1, 280). Beach, who has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons, has the potential to be among the A-10's top defensive tackles . Manning the other tackle position will be Frank Cobbs (6-1, 250). Cobbs, Pulaski County's (Va.) MVP of 2002, is a converted fullback with good speed. Sid Evans (6-1, 260) and Kevin Winston (6-3, 225) are the starting defensive ends. That pair has combined for 12 tackles, four of them coming behind the line of scrimmage.

Like West Virginia, defensive coordinator George Barlow starts five players in the defensive backfield, including two cornerbacks and three safeties. Covering the corners will be Clint Kent (5-8, 185) and Cortez Thompson (5-9, 175). The duo has combined 16 tackles and one interception but will have their hands full on Saturday against WVU's tall receivers.

Rodney McCarter (5-10, 190), Tony LeZotte (6-0, 175) and Bruce Johnson (5-8, 195) will start at the safety positions. McCarter, a second team All-A10 performer, has tallied two stops this season. Lezotte and Johnson have totaled 19 tackles, with Lezotte tied for the team lead. With all three players under 200 pounds, the Mountaineers will figure to attack the safeties with the running game

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 15th in total offense (477.67 yds/game), 5th in rushing offense (311.00 yds/game) and 88th in passing offense (166.67 yds/game).

James Madison is ranked (in Div-1AA) 3rd in total defense (144.50 yds/game), 1st in rushing defense (18.00 yds/game) and 7th in passing efficiency defense (74.23 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. JMU offense

Much like the Mountaineers, James Madison will try to establish a running game early in the contest and set the tempo. Unfortunately for the Dukes, the WVU defense they will see on Saturday isn't Lock Haven's or Villanova's. The Dukes rushed for a combined 462 yards against those teams, but expects to see tougher going against West Virginia's defensive front.. So far this season, head coach Mickey Matthews has used a Multiple I offense, and has run the ball 73% of the time.

Leading the Dukes' offense will be the quarterback tandem of Justin Rascati (6-2, 220) and Matt LeZotte (6-1, 210). Rascati, a transfer from Louisville, has completed 12 of 25 passes for 147 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. LeZotte, a three-year starter, saw action against Lock Haven, connecting on 8 of 13 passes for 121 yards and one touchdown.

The Dukes bring a couple of solid running backs to Morgantown on Saturday. Alvin Banks (5-10, 220) and Maurice Fenner (6-1, 220) have combined to handle the bulk of the rushing duties so far, combining for 337 yards on 66 carries and four touchdowns. Paving the way for the JMU ground game will be fullback Will Patrick (6-02, 230). Patrick, a converted defensive end, has only seen the pigskin one time this year, a four-yard gain against Villanova. His duties will again likely be limited to blocking.

Rascati's four main receiving targets, D.D. Boxley (5-9, 175), Nic Tolley (6-2, 190), Tahir Hinds (6-3, 205) and tight end Tom Ridley (6-4, 245) give the Dukes a good combination of size and speed. Boxley, a speedster from King George, Va., has four receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown on the season. Tolley and Hinds, both juniors, have combined for seven catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns while Ridley has four receptions for 67 yards. JMU completed just two passes in the stormy game against Villanova, so most of the receiving numbers were compiled against Division II Lock Haven.

Providing running room for the James Madison running backs will be a large offensive line, even by 1AA standards. Anchoring the Dukes' line will be West Virginia native George Burns (6-2, 300). The senior, playing at left guard, is a three-year starter. Playing the other guard position is Matt Magerko (6-0, 285). Magerko, a preseason second-team All-A-10 pick, saw action last year at center after an injury to Leon Steinfeld. Steinfeld (6-1, 295) is back this season and was picked to the 2004 preseason all-conference second team at center. Corey Davis (6-4, 340) and Jamaal Crowder (6-3, 300) man the tackle positions and hope to provide solid protection for the JMU signal caller.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 45th in total defense (325.00 yds/game), 62nd in rushing defense (138.33 yds/game) and 31st in passing efficiency defense (105.77).

James Madison is ranked (in Div-1AA) 40th in total offense (365.5 yds/game), 12th in rushing offense (231.5 yds/game) and 94th in passing (134.00 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. JMU special teams

Handling the place kicking and punting duties for the Dukes will be David Rabil (6-1, 160) and Nick Englehart (6-0, 200), respectively. Rabil, the Franklin, Va. native, has scored 15 points in JMU's first two contests. The sophomore has connected on all nine extra point attempts and on field goals of 29 and 37 yards. Englehart has averaged only 36.36 yards on 11 punts, nine of which were in the rainy conditions in last week's game. The preseason first-team All-Atlantic 10 punter ranks 72nd in Div-1AA.

Two players that figure to be busy on Saturday will be JMU kick returners Ardon Bransford (5-10, 185) and Cortez Thompson (5-9, 175). With the Dukes' defense dominating the first two games, Bransford and Thompson have not received much work but that should change against WVU. Against Lock Haven and Villanova the pair combined for two returns for 44 yards.

JMU's punt returners, on the other hand, have been very busy. L.C. Baker (5-7,170) has returned nine punts for 117 yards, averaging 13 yards per return, placing him 22nd nationally in Div-1AA. The true freshman was an all-district and all-region wide receiver and kick returner last season at Armstrong High School.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 78th in net punting (34.15 yds/punt), 37th in kick returns (22.45 yds/return) and 7th in punt returns (21.25 yds/return).
James Madison is ranked (in Div-1AA) 61st in net punting (32.91 yds/punt), 75th in kick returns (18.00 yds/return) and 31st in punt returns (11.25 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

Game Links
GameDay Weather
Road Conditions
JMU Message Board
JMU Official Site
JMU Roster
Stadium Seating
Picks to Click:

On Offense: Kay Jay Harris

On Defense: Jason Hardee

Useless Facts:

* JMU has more than 50 players from the Old Dominion State on the roster.

* James Madison is called the Dukes in honor of Samuel P. Duke, second president of the university, 1919-1949.

* James Madison has one Division I national championship to their credit (Women's field hockey) .

* The Dukes are 3-12 all-time against Div-1A competition. Their victories came over Virginia (1982), Navy (1989) and Navy (1990).

* JMU is 24-34 all-time against Division 1AA ranked opponents. Last week the Dukes beat #5 Villanova 17-0.

* JMU will be only the third 1AA school that WVU has ever played (1AA was formed in 1978), the others being Richmond (1982) and Tennessee-Chattanooga (2002). How does this compare to other schools in the Big East? In order, the most games played against 1AA foes is Rutgers (39), Temple (26), Boston College (19), Syracuse (4) and Pittsburgh (3). Just for comparison, Virginia Tech has played Div-1AA teams 33 times while Miami totals 13.

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!


No one in their right mind would pick the Dukes to leave Morgantown with a win on Saturday, but this game could be closer than some expect. Coming off an emotional win against Maryland and with Virginia Tech on the horizon don't be surprised if the Mountaineers come out a little flat in the first quarter.

That being said, Kay Jay Harris will reach the 100-yard mark for the third time this season, and the Mountaineers will end up with the win.

WVU - 48 JMU - 9

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