Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
Well folks, it was one hell of a run.
JMU was an elite football program for a few years, and it was fun while it lasted. Sadly, Saturday, the run came to an end.
The Dukes scored just once in the first half Saturday, and their only first-half points came on a Hail Mary. In the end, they fell 38-14 and failed to match up to the toughness of their opposition.
That was No. 1 North Dakota State, which got steamrolled 38-14 by Southern Illinois. The Bison looked lost.
So what happened with JMU?
Oh that’s right, they got ripped off by the officials, who said an obvious made field goal was no good. The ref in question was adjusting his mask during the kick and never even saw the ball. Instead of a three-point lead, the game remained tied.
It was a momentum swing in the team’s 28-21 loss.
Hold on. I’m receiving word that happened to Eastern Washington, not JMU. The Eagles lost 28-21 at Idaho.
If the refs didn’t bring JMU to its knees, what did?
Ahhhh yes, of course. The second half.
JMU was outscored 21-3 in the second half, ultimately losing 28-17. In the team’s defense, the opponent is drawing rave reviews from FCS media pundits.
That was South Dakota State, which lost 28-17 to North Dakota thanks to a subpar second half.
JMU beat Robert Morris 36-16, outscoring the Colonials 20-0 after halftime to earn the victory. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was a victory.
Fans were beside themselves in the first half as Cole Johnson tossed three interceptions. It was an erratic performance from the starting quarterback, who did settle down a bit later in the game. He tossed two touchdowns in the victory.
As Robert Morris took the lead, fans were stunned.
Didn’t JMU beat this team 73-7 in 2018?
Well, yes, but Robert Morris has improved. The program went 6-1 in the NEC in 2019. When the Dukes beat them in 2018, the Colonials went 0-6 in the NEC. Robert Morris isn’t a bad team.
Now a member of the Big South, Robert Morris wants football success. It’s getting closer to being a potential playoff threat. The program is improving and there’s no shame in playing a competitive first half against the Colonials.
Eventually, JMU found its footing and won by 20 points.
The game was far from perfect, but let’s calm down a little bit. It’s early in the season, and Robert Morris could easily turn out to be a decent team this spring. JMU didn’t play to its standard, but that doesn’t mean it won’t improve during CAA play.
The season is young.
Show a little patience with Johnson and the passing game. It’s been a while since the team played football on a weekly basis, and it’s his first season as a full-time starter. Give Curt Cignetti time to help JMU improve its flaws.
In the meantime, enjoy the win. Not every FCS fanbase can do that after this weekend.