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JMU football's Riley and Dylan Stapleton celebrate Dylan's touchdown against New Hampshire. 

In its first game coming off a bye week, JMU football is halfway through its battle with No. 23 New Hampshire. The Wildcats came in hoping to place their stake in the 2019 CAA Football title race but are struggling against the second-ranked Dukes. At the half, JMU leads UNH 30-10.

The good: New Hampshire’s opening drive

In arguably New Hampshire’s biggest game of the regular season, it began the contest with a statement. 

After JMU won the coin toss, it deferred to the second half, giving the Wildcats the ball to start. Freshman quarterback Max Brosmer took control and played like a seasoned quarterback who’s faced the big stage numerous times. 

After two rushes got the Wildcats to a third-and-6 situation, Brosmer dropped back and remained calm in the pocket. He found senior tight end Justin Malone-Woods for a 17-yard gain, bringing UNH to its own 45. Then, the team took its first risk of the game. 

Sophomore running back Carlos Washington Jr. tossed the ball to sophomore wide receiver Benyeal Hill Jr., who found senior wide receiver Malik Love for a 49-yard gain. At first-and-goal at the Dukes’ six-yard line, the Wildcats found the end zone after three plays, taking a quick 7-0 lead after 3:48 of play.

The bad: UNH’s secondary

JMU is capitalizing off something that wasn’t expected: New Hampshire’s secondary. It’s ranked third in the CAA in pass defense, only giving up 206.8 yards through the air per game. 

Through 30 minutes, JMU redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci has 182 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard connection with redshirt senior wide receiver Brandon Polk. DiNucci also posted a QB-rating of 205.2 and had no turnovers. 

JMU is averaging 14 yards per completion as it utilizes players like Polk and redshirt junior wide receiver Jake Brown. Brown, who’s often found himself in the slot position before plays, has four catches for 48 yards. DiNucci also got sophomore tight end Drew Painter involved, finding him for a 26-yard gain to convert a crucial third down. 

The ugly: Targeting calls keep coming

For a third consecutive home game, JMU had a player disqualified for targeting. This time, it was redshirt senior linebacker Dimitri Holloway who had to leave the game early, joining teammate redshirt junior safety D’Angelo Amos in the locker room.

Amos has been ejected for targeting twice this season, and his second offense came with a one-half suspension. Amos served it in the first half of today’s contest and will return in the second half.

With time dwindling in the first quarter on third-and-7, Brosmer tried to scramble for a first down. As he slid, Holloway went in for the tackle, but the referees saw helmet-to-helmet contact and deemed it targeting. Holloway will stay out for the remainder of the game. 

Contact Noah Ziegler at breezesports@gmail.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

There comes a time where an athlete realizes their true potential. When I realized that I was never going to make a living on the court, I figured I’d make it on the sidelines. I hope to be able to attend and cover the World Cup and NCAA tournament.