Dylan Stapleton

Senior tight end Dylan Stapleton hauled in a pass from redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci for a first down.

JMU is 30 minutes through its third homecoming game of the season, this time against CAA foe Towson. The Dukes and Tigers have been in a contested matchup through the first half of action, with the Dukes leading 24-10. 

The good: JMU’s “bend, don’t break” mentality

Towson redshirt senior quarterback Tom Flacco extended a few plays during the first half of play, including a 28-yard pass to the JMU 22-yard line. But, that’s as far as the Dukes would let the Tigers get on that drive. The next play, the defensive line brought redshirt senior wide receiver Shane Leatherbury down for a 14-yard loss. 

The next snap saw Flacco throw his fourth interception of the season as senior safety Adam Smith had the ball land in his hands for his fourth pick of the year. Following the interception, the Dukes drove the field and recorded their first touchdown of the contest. 

In recent weeks, the JMU defense has been tested and given up a few big plays, but each time, they managed to force a turnover or make the opposing offense settle for a field goal attempt. The Dukes forfeited one fourth-down conversion, which was followed up with a Towson touchdown. JMU responded with two touchdowns, a field goal of its own and a forced fumble to keep the Tigers off the board for the remainder of the half. 

The bad: Robert Heyward’s targeting call 

On the Dukes’ first drive of the second quarter, redshirt senior wide receiver Brandon Polk took the kickoff return up to the JMU 23-yard line before being hit by Towson redshirt senior middle linebacker Robert Heyward. 

There wasn’t a call immediately, but as the Dukes lined up to take the snap, referees called for the play to be reviewed. Upon review, a personal foul was called, and Heyward was ejected from the game. Heyward is currently Towson’s No.1 guy at the middle linebacker position, posting 53 total tackles — 31 of which are solo — and six tackles for loss. 

This is the third time this season an opponent has been ejected for targeting on the Dukes.

The ugly: the score

If anyone came to Bridgeforth Stadium looking for a high-scoring contest, they’d probably be disappointed with the first half of JMU vs. Towson. The two CAA programs have been in a defensive showdown, limiting the start power both offenses possess. 

With the scoring low during the first 20 minutes, if a fan likes a defensive battle, they’re probably in heaven right now. The score sits at 24-10 with both teams in the locker room making halftime adjustments following the Dukes breaking out for two touchdowns and a field goal late in the half to add to its lead.

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.”