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David Coulson

Delaware @ James Madison

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HARRISONBURG, Va. Covering a Football Championship Subdivision game at noon on Saturday takes a little different preparation, particularly when you have to drive four and a half hours to the heart of Duke Dog country.

I was up by 5 a.m. and on the road about an hour later, journeying across the Pennsylvania Turnpike and then down Interstate 81.

Fortunately, these early-morning, Saturday football drives are made a little more pleasant by my trusty XM Satellite Radio, where I can tune in three hours of "Celtic Crush," an eclectic blend of modern and traditional music with Celtic influences.

You might hear anything from Ziggy Marley singing with the accompaniment of the Chieftains, or Sinead O'Connor covering Peter Tosh, to someone croonying "Danny Boy."

That prepared me for the "Purple Crush" of getting through traffic at the ever-expanding Bridgeforth Stadium and the prospect of seeing one of this week's most important FCS games between James Madison and Delaware, two of the teams I view as among the top five in the country.

This will be my first chance to see JMU since its monumental 21-16 upset of Virginia Tech last month. It seems like coach Mickey Matthews and company are always developing new defensive stars and redshirt senior Drew Dudzik has the Duke option firing on all cylinders as they have started the season 3-0.

Delaware has reemerged from a couple of years of doldrums to get back into the mix as one of the top FCS teams. Quarterback Pat Devlin has become more effective as the Blue Hens have finally developed a solid offensive line and the addition of freshman Andrew Pierce at running back has brought balance to the Delaware attack.

On defense, the Blue Hens have marched to a 4-0 start behind one of the top secondaries in FCS and consistent play from everywhere else. Coming off a 34-13 thrashing of Richmind last Saturday on the road, Delaware is looking to win another key Colonial Athletic Association road game.

Whatever happens between these two top-shelf teams, it should be one of the most fun games of the FCS regular season and has the atmosphere of a playoff game already.

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  1. dcoulson's Avatar
    It didn't take long for this game to heat to white hot. JMU defensive end D.J. Bryant hit and injured Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin on the first Delaware possession. Devlin was hit well after handing the ball off and there were immediate words between Bryant and some of the Blue Hen players.

    Bryant had been quoted as saying that the JMU defense would target Devlin and the wrist he injured a few weeks ago, adding more fuel to the flames.

    Delaware coach K.C. was absolutely livid with the referee, Herbert Stayton, Jr., when a personal foul flag wasn't thrown.

    Delaware was forced to punt, but JMU's Kirby Long muffed the ball at the Duke three and Jake Giusti recovered for the Blue Hens. But the JMU defense held for three downs and overcame an offsides penalty on the first of two third down plays.

    On the second, Delaware backup quarterback Trevor Sasek, a redshirt freshman, nervously fumbled the snap. A sea of purple-clad defenders tried in vain to scoop up the ball and caravan for an easy touchdown before defensive Ronnell Brown recovered on the ground.

    JMU moved the ball into position for a 47-yard field goal attempt by Dixon Wright, but his kick sailed narrowly wide to the left. But Delaware was unable to get a first down and gave the ball back to JMU on a punt with about five minutes left in the first period.

    After a JMU punt, Delaware strung together several nice first-down plays to move inside the Duke 30 as the first period ended in the scoreless game.
    Updated 10-02-2010 at 01:11 PM by dcoulson
  2. dcoulson's Avatar
    Trevor Sasek finally began to gain his composure near the end of the first period, marching Delaware into JMU territory. He picked up a key first down running out of pressure on a third and long to give the Blue Hens the ball at the 14 and then scored at the 12:40 mark of the second quarter on a one-yard sneak to make it 7-0 for Delaware.

    It was just announced that Pat Devlin is out for the game with a concussion on the D.J. Bryant hit.
    Updated 10-02-2010 at 01:11 PM by dcoulson
  3. dcoulson's Avatar
    In his first four years at James Madison, redshirt senior running back Jamal Sullivan was best known as the guy who fumbled the ball away in the final seconds of the first round of the NCAA playoffs as the Dukes suffered a devastating loss to then-two-time defending national champion Appalachian State. JMU was getting ready to attempt a short field goal to win the game.

    But Sullivan used a pair of brilliant runs early in the second period against Delaware to set JMU up for a game-tying TD. After being held out of the end zone on fourth and goal, Sullivan crashed in from inches outside of the goal line to make it 7-7 with 9:43 left in the half.
  4. dcoulson's Avatar
    After Jamal Sullivan led JMU into scoring territory again, late in the first half, the Dukes decided to pass up a chance to go for it on fourth and one from the Delaware four. Dixon Wright's short field goal made it 10-7 JMU with a minute left before the break.

    Sullivan finished the first half with 10 carries for 82 yards as JMU rolled up a 214-67 advantage in total yards.
    Updated 10-02-2010 at 12:33 PM by dcoulson
  5. dcoulson's Avatar
    James Madison dodged a big bullet after two penalties, a third-down offsides call and a face mask flag gave Delaware a first down at the JMU 10. But QB Trevor Sasek showed his youthfulness when he locked onto a receiver in the end zone and fired an interception to kill the Blue Hens' drive. Unfortunately for Delaware, Sasek missed a wide open Phillip Thaxton in the flat for what could have been a TD.
  6. dcoulson's Avatar
    Give some credit to Delaware offensive coordinator Jim Hofner in the second half. His excellent play-calling with having a rookie quarterback in the game is giving the Blue Hens a chance, along with tough defensive play.

    Delaware mulled a fourth-down call from the JMU 30 and finally decided to go for a field goal from 47 yards out to start the fourth quarter. Mike Perry's kick lined through the uprights to tie the game with 14:56 remaining.
  7. dcoulson's Avatar
    With JMU driving, tight end Brian Barlow broke off his route, leading to a Delaware interception by Darryl Jones with around 10 minutes to play.
  8. dcoulson's Avatar
    Delaware just converted a key fourth and long with a pass from Sasek to Rob Jones down to the JMU 39. The Blue Hens are looking for a game-winning score with three minutes to play. Andrew Pierce has run it to the JMU 19.
  9. dcoulson's Avatar
    Pierce gets a first down at the 15 on a third and two with the clock winding down. There is just 57 second left after a JMU time out on second down and 10 from the 15. Another time out is taken by JMU with 49 seconds left at the 10 before third down.
    Updated 10-02-2010 at 01:47 PM by dcoulson
  10. dcoulson's Avatar
    With the clock ticking, Delaware will attempt to win the game on a 28-yard field goal from Mike Perry. The Blue Hens take a time out with six seconds left.
  11. dcoulson's Avatar
    Perfect snap, perfect hold and perfect kick by Perry gives Delaware a 13-10 lead with three seconds to play. Tavelon Cuffee made a great effort, speeding around the left side, to block the kick, but his diving attempt came up empty.
  12. dcoulson's Avatar
    Kerby Long returned the kickoff for JMU to the Delaware 45 before being tackled to end the game. Final score: Delaware 13, JMU 10.