Ben DiNucci

Quarterback Ben DiNucci takes a pre-game snap with Mac Patrick.

Through 30 minutes of action in the cold outdoors of upstate New York, JMU took a 10-6 lead into the break. Two hard-nosed, aggressive teams exchanged blows throughout the opening half, with a trip to the FCS quarterfinals on the line.

The good: James Holland Jr.

Colgate’s redshirt senior running back James Holland Jr. is no joke. The 5-foot-9-inch, 210-pound tailback is one of the best in the nation and has 68 yards of total offense through the first half.

Holland’s most admirable trait is his ability to always fall forward and gain extra yards on the play. On several occasions, the JMU defense had him held to what should’ve been a two- or three-yard gain, but Holland turned them into five- or eight-yard gains. He’s also been effective in the passing game, and has two receptions for 19 yards.

The bad: situational execution

It hasn’t been awful, but both James Madison and Colgate have fallen into a trap in key executional situations. The Raiders started their day completing only 33 percent of their third-down attempts, one of which was deep in JMU territory.

On the other hand, JMU is completing 40 percent of its third-down attempts and has put itself in dangerous positions with scary decisions from redshirt junior quarterback Ben DINucci. JMU’s quarterback threw an interception on the second drive of the game, two in the closing minute of the half and had a fumble in the red zone that almost resulted in another turnover. In a low-scoring game where every possession matters, smart decision making and situational execution are as vital as ever.

The ugly: Colgate’s student section

The press box at Andy Kerr Stadium is rather close to Colgate’s student section, resulting in an up-close experience to an interesting group of human beings. Using the weather to their advantage, the fans took to snowball throwing at JMU players, coaches and fans.

It’s bad enough the fans are having a tough time starting chants or making it a raucous environment for the away team, but going as far as throwing snowballs to make an impact is a rather shallow and ineffective move.

Contact Blake Pace at For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.