After an up-and-down first half, JMU holds on to a 20-14 lead over Chattanooga. The Dukes raced out to a quick 14-0 lead, but a touchdown followed by a fumble on the ensuing kickoff allowed the Mocs to tie the game in less than a minute.
The good: Ben DiNucci’s control of the game
Redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci boasts a skill many quarterbacks yearn for: agility. The Wexford, Pennsylvania, native has not only rushed for 39 yards on four carries but has gone 11-for-16 for 149 yards.
DiNucci’s legs helped him escape a collapsing pocket on multiples occasions against the Mocs, extending plays and giving his quick wide receivers more time to break open. While the Pittsburgh-transfer doesn’t have a touchdown to his name in the first half against Chattanooga, he led the offense in an up-tempo style en route to JMU’s second touchdown.
DiNucci also hasn’t turned the ball over since Week 1, where a costly fourth-quarter interception led to a game-sealing West Virginia touchdown. For the Dukes to escape a potential upset bid, DiNucci needs to continue being a field general and handle the pressure of facing adversity in an unfamiliar environment.
The good part two: Ethan Ratke
Redshirt junior kicker Ethan Ratke was called on twice for the Dukes. After nailing 44-yard and 42-yard field goals, Ratke rose to second in the program’s history for field goals made. After tying former kicker Cameron Starke at No. 2, he’s two made kicks away from breaking the record held by John Coursey.
The bad: JMU’s secondary
Having to replace redshirt senior cornerback Rashad Robinson is no easy feat. The Richmond, Virginia, native was day-to-day following an injury sustained against Morgan State last Saturday and hasn’t seen the field against Chattanooga despite being in uniform.
Through two quarters, Chattanooga averaged 14.5 yards per catch compared to JMU’s 12.4. Despite only having 28 yards on the ground, the Mocs have found success through the air, tossing for 120 yards and one touchdown.
The ugly: The final minute of the first quarter
After forcing two three-and-outs to start the game, JMU’s defense looked to give the offense more breathing room to extend a 14-0 lead. Instead, the Mocs drove down the field — converting three third downs along the way — to pull within a score.
Following the touchdown, ball security became an issue for JMU as it had earlier in the season. The Dukes couldn’t secure the ensuing kickoff, giving Chattanooga the ball in good field position. Sixteen seconds later, senior quarterback Nick Tiano scampered into the endzone for his second touchdown of the game, levelling the score at 14.
Contact Noah Ziegler at email@example.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.