JMU and Youngstown State University are through two quarters of football in the Football Championship Subdivision national title game and the Dukes are in the driver’s seat with a 21-7 lead. JMU has outgained the Penguins 208 total yards to 88.
Special teams have been the biggest key to the Dukes’ success so far. After the JMU defense forced Youngstown State into a three-and-out on its first possession, the Penguins lined up to punt near midfield. The Dukes called a blitz, allowing redshirt senior linebacker Justin Wellons to find a hole and block redshirt freshman punter Mark Schuler’s kick.
Redshirt sophomore cornerback Robert Carter, Jr. recovered the ball at the YSU 18. Two plays later, junior quarterback Bryan Schor found junior tight end Jonathan Kloosterman in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown to give JMU the early lead.
The Dukes forced Youngstown State into a three-and-out again on their ensuing drive. Schuler shanked the punt, giving JMU the ball at the 50-yard line. The Dukes took advantage of the good field position, needing only four players to reach the end zone. Schor hit senior wide receiver Rashard Davis with an 18-yard pass for the score.
The Penguins were finally able to pick up a first down the next time their offense took the field. JMU was able to force Youngstown State into a fourth down situation, but not before the Penguins marched down to the JMU 28. On the field goal try, however, the Penguins botched the snap and walked away without putting any points on the scoreboard.
JMU jumped out to a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter. The Dukes drove 87 yards down the field on just eight plays, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by senior running back Khalid Abdullah. In the quarter, Abdullah also broke JMU’s single-season rushing record.
Youngstown State made it a two possession game on its final drive of the half after a tipped punt gave it the ball deep in JMU territory. Junior quarterback Hunter Wells threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Shane Kuhn, his first of the season.
JMU is outscoring opponents in the first half 233-41 this season. While the Penguins were able to get on the board late in the half, the Dukes were in control for most of the game. Youngstown State will receive the opening kickoff to begin the third quarter.
Contact Matt Weyrich at firstname.lastname@example.org.