James Madison falls to No. 9 West Virginia 42-12
James Madison finally forced West Virginia to punt late in the second quarter.
By then, it was clear the Dukes weren't going to pull another stunner over a ranked FBS team.
Unable to keep pace with an offense that finesses its way downfield seemingly at will, James Madison fell 42-12 Saturday to the No. 9 Mountaineers.
The Dukes (2-1) are remembered for beating then-No. 13 Virginia Tech two years ago, but it's hard to repeat such a feat when the other team has a 28-point lead early in the second quarter.
''We just couldn't get anything going in the first quarter,'' James Madison coach Mickey Matthews said. ''It's exactly what we didn't want to do. We talked about not wanting to let them get going, and we just couldn't move the ball in the first quarter.''
Geno Smith completed 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns for the Mountaineers (2-0), moving past Marc Bulger (8,153) to set the school record for career yards passing (8,191).
Favorite targets Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin both had 100 yards receiving by halftime.
Bailey finished with 173 yards on 13 catches and three touchdowns, while Austin had 113 yards on 11 receptions and one score. West Virginia piled up 569 yards and improved to 13-0 all-time against FCS schools.
Nothing worked for the Dukes early on. They got called for 12 men on the field twice on defense in the first quarter, and then successfully converted a fourth-and-1 at their own 34 on the first play of the second quarter - a ploy that only managed to keep the Mountaineers offense off the field for a few extra minutes.
''We didn't show a lot of poise,'' Matthews said.
The Dukes finally had some momentum in the third quarter, but two chances to get the score within some sort of reasonable margin came up empty. They were stopped on four running plays after a first-and-goal at the 3, then threw a third-down interception in the end zone after a first-and-goal at the 9.
''The goal line stands by them in the third quarter,'' Matthews said, ''certainly kept it out of reach.''
The Dukes were missing leading rusher Dae'Quan Scott, who injured an ankle last week. Then they lost Daniel Brown to a torn ACL in his right knee on the first offensive play of the game, defensive tackle Jordan Stanton to a concussion, and safety Titus Till to an ankle injury.
With the Mountaineers playing at the Washington Redskins stadium - they need to maintain an East Coast profile for recruiting now that they've moved to the Big 12 - school legend and former Redskins Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff served as the honorary West Virginia captain. He also soaked up the cheers as he held up his long-retired No. 75 jersey during the quarter break in the first half.
By then, Smith had staked West Virginia to a 21-0 lead. Any thought of an upset had already faded.
''They've shown potential to upset people,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. ''I give our guys credit for not falling into that trap.''
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