For the second time this season, JMU faces a team on its homecoming game. First, it was Stony Brook in a 45-38 overtime win for the Dukes. This time, it’s in-state rival William & Mary. Through 30 minutes, JMU leads the Tribe, 21-3.
The good: JMU’s third-down defense
JMU ranks No. 10 in the nation in third-down defense and showed why in the first half against William & Mary. In the first quarter alone, the Tribe went 0-for-4 on third down, one of which was third-and-3 and another third-and-1. At halftime, W&M was 2-for-8 on third down.
With redshirt senior defensive end Ron’Dell Carter and senior defensive end John Daka on the edge for the Dukes, short-yard conversions were difficult as the two locked down a potential outside run. JMU’s defense is top-10 in the FCS in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense.
The bad: JMU’s offensive production
Through three quarters against Villanova, JMU’s rushing attack struggled to spark any momentum. Then, freshman running back Latrele Palmer entered and broke for 103 yards on eight carries, scoring one touchdown. It was his fourth game played, meaning one more would burn his eligibility for a redshirt.
In the first half, JMU struggled on the ground, and head coach Curt Cignetti looked to the Good Counsel (Olney, Maryland) product to spark a relatively lackluster offensive performance in the first half, meaning Palmer is ineligible for a redshirt and will continue to receive playing opportunities throughout the rest of the season.
Unfortunately for Cignetti, Palmer couldn’t ignite the offense. The Dukes had 42 rushing yards and 123 through the air. JMU benefitted from an interception from William & Mary senior quarterback Kilton Anderson deep in Tribe territory, which set the Dukes up at the W&M 14. Junior running back Percy Agyei-Obese capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, which extended the JMU lead to 14-3.
The ugly: William & Mary’s offensive line
Stopping the vicious JMU defensive line is no easy task, and the Tribe O-Line had trouble dealing with the likes of junior defensive tackle Mike Greene, Carter and Daka. Any opportunity W&M had to gain momentum, JMU’s defense broke through the line and put pressure on Anderson. The Coastal Carolina transfer went 6-of-9 for 22 yards and one interception in the first half.
Carter had five tackles, three of which for a loss — tying his single-game record for TFLs — and has one sack. Daka, Greene and redshirt linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey combined for an additional three sacks.
Contact Noah Ziegler at email@example.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.