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Borthers Riley and Dylan Stapleton celebrate following Riley's second touchdown catch of the game.

JMU football is back home for its third CAA matchup of the season. In a highly anticipated matchup against No. 5 Villanova, the Dukes are currently leading Villanova 17-10 with 30 minutes left to play.  

The good: JMU’s third-down offense

There have been signs of struggles early on for the offense, but even when it looked like the Dukes wouldn’t move the chains, redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci found a way to get it done. Through the first half, JMU went 8-for-11 on third-down conversions for a 72.7% conversion rate. 

The Dukes are also 2-for-2 on conversions that require nine or more yards. JMU’s racked up 107 yards off third downs heading into the half. 

Two of the Dukes’ third down conversions even ended in the end zone with DiNucci finding redshirt senior wide receiver Riley Stapleton both times. One completion was a two-yard touchdown pass, and the other a five-yard score. The two touchdowns were Stapleton’s first scores of the 2019 season.

The bad: JMU’s pass defense

After taking a late hit in the game against Stony Brook, junior cornerback Wesley McCormick didn’t dress for JMU’s matchup against Villanova. The loss of a corner on a defense that’s seen difficulties limiting the pass early in the season hasn’t fared well for the Dukes. 

While redshirt senior cornerback Rashad Robinson made his return against the Wildcats, the defense still struggled to limit Villanova junior quarterback Daniel Smith. During the first half of the game, Smith threw for 179 yards off 12 completions. The Wildcats’ lone touchdown also came through the air off a 43-yard pass from Smith to junior wide receiver Changa Hodge. 

The ugly: Targeting call on D’Angelo Amos

As the end of the first quarter neared, redshirt junior safety/returner D’Angelo Amos was ejected from the contest after a questionable targeting call around midfield. Even after a review, refs confirmed the call, sending Amos to the locker room early and throwing practically all of Bridgeforth Stadium into a fit of outrage. 

In the first 15 minutes of action, Amos contributed by blocking a field goal and posting two total tackles. With the pass defense struggling early, the loss of Amos only adds to an already thin secondary. The special teams unit also lost its punt returner with the ejection and had to use redshirt sophomore returner Jack Sroba back deep. 

Contact Catie Harper at breezesports@gmail.com. For more football coverage, 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.”