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Redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci has two total touchdowns through the first half against Stony Brook. 

In a game that many expected to be a defensive slugfest, JMU and Stony Brook have been locked in a shootout. At the end of the first half, the Dukes lead the Seawolves, 28-21. 

The good: JMU’s start to the game

When JMU won the coin toss, it deferred until the second half, putting trust in its defense to get a stop early. It did more than that as junior defensive lineman Mike Greene knocked the ball out of redshirt senior running back Isaiah White’s grasp. Redshirt senior linebacker Dimitri Holloway recovered, giving the Dukes the ball on the Stony Brook 32-yard line. 

Redshirt freshman running back Solomon Vanhorse ran the ball twice for 12 total yards, then redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci escaped the pocket and took off for a 20-yard score to put the Dukes up seven just 1:18 into the contest. 

The good part two: JMU’s rush attack

The Dukes’ ground game has been stellar all season, and through 30 minutes of play against Stony Brook, it’s kept its stride. 

Following DiNucci’s touchdown run, the No. 2 rushing offense in the CAA found the endzone twice, both coming on the ground. Redshirt junior running back Jawon Hamilton ran for 55 yards to give the Dukes a touchdown lead, then junior Percy Agyei-Obese used his strength to find the endzone for the fifth time this season. 

The bad: Both defenses

JMU boasts the No. 1 defense in the CAA and Stony Brook sits at No. 2. It wasn’t supposed to be an offensive battle, but fans at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium have been treated to 49 points in the first half. 

The Seawolves have given up 254 total yards, including 141 on the ground and 113 through the air. The Dukes are averaging 18.8 yards per completion, while Stony Brook is averaging 20.6. Both teams are also 3-for-3 in the red zone. 

The ugly: Ball security

Stony Brook’s night started with a fumble on the first play of the game. In a marquee matchup that could have CAA championship implications, the Seawolves didn’t capitalize early.

Late in the first quarter, junior punter Harry O’Kelly launched a kick that appeared to hit a Stony Brook player on its way down. JMU recovered, but after the referees took a second look, they ruled that the Dukes illegally touched the ball. JMU head coach Curt Cignetti challenged the play, and despite his appeal, the call stood. 

In the second quarter, the Dukes got the ball on their own 24 after the defense made a stop near midfield. On the first play of the drive, an option play quickly turned awry as a miscommunication between DiNucci and Hamilton left the ball to hit the turf. The Seawolves recovered and scored two plays later. 

With just under three minutes remaining, redshirt senior wide receiver Riley Stapleton made a key third-down catch. While fighting for extra yards, the ball was popped out, but the Indiana, Pennsylvania, native was quick to fall on it and avoid JMU’s second turnover 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.