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JMU wide receiver Brandon Polk recorded the first touchdown of the contest.

JMU football got its third-round matchup against the University of Northern Iowa started under the lights in Harrisonburg on Friday night. Through the opening 30 minutes of play, the Dukes lead the Panthers 10-0.

The good: JMU’s offense

The Dukes didn’t put as many points on the board as they probably would’ve wanted to, but the offense is showing it has the ability to move the ball against Northern Iowa’s defense. Redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci finished the first quarter 9-of-10 for 100 yards through the air. 

With the first score, it was none other than redshirt senior wide receiver Brandon Polk. The Ashburn, Virginia, native has proven time and time again that, if you give him a chance, he’s going to capitalize on it. With a touchdown on his first reception of the game, Polk extended his scoring streak to nine games. 

Along with Polk, senior tight end Dylan Stapleton added 34 receiving yards of his own. Junior running back Percy Agyei-Obese also finished the opening half with 38 rushing yards, which put him over 1,000 yards rushing on the season.

The bad: Northern Iowa’s defensive efficiency

If one were to look at the stat sheet, they’d think the Panthers’ defense had done a good job getting at the JMU offense. Northern Iowa finished the half with 61 tackles, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. For JMU, the defense only recorded 22 tackles, four TFLs and three sacks. 

Of course, the Dukes’ defense was only on the turf for less than 10 minutes compared to Northern Iowa’s near 21 minutes of field time. While the Panthers’ defense has done a good job keeping JMU out of the end zone, it’s not doing a good job getting the Dukes off the field quickly.

The ugly: UNI’s offense

The Panthers struggled to figure out how to attack the No. 3 team in total defense through the opening 15 minutes. When the first quarter ended, Northern Iowa had a single yard to its offensive production and didn’t earn a first down until the second quarter. 

Even when the Panthers were able to string together a few first downs, they started the drive deep enough in their own territory that the Dukes were able to force them off the field. By the conclusion of the half, the Panthers only had 31 yards of total offense. 

Northern Iowa was also the first team to turn the ball over when redshirt junior safety D’Angelo Amos forced a fumble that redshirt junior defensive lineman Adeeb Atariwa fell on. Only a few drives after forcing a fumble, Amos also recovered a fumble after senior defensive lineman John Daka knocked the ball out of redshirt freshman quarterback Will McElvain’s hand. 

Contact Catie Harper at thebreezesports@gmail.com. For more football, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

Pat Summitt, Erin Andrews and Lindsay Czarniak were three names that inspired me growing up. Here I am now at JMU, Czarniak’s alma mater, taking steps to live out my dream. As Pat would say, “I’m going to keep on keepin’ on, I promise you that.”