In front of a crowd of 14,423 on a frigid Saturday afternoon inside Frisco’s Toyota Stadium, James Madison University trumped Youngstown State 28-14 to win their second FCS title and be crowned the 2017 NCAA DI FCS Champions.
The play that defined Youngstown State’s day came when JMU cornerback Curtis Oliver nabbed an interception that saw the ball deflect off Youngstown State receiver Damoun Patterson’s foot into his hands in the third quarter. It was simply the Duke’s day, and they came out and proved it.
James Madison (14-1) was the aggressor coming out as quarterback Bryan Schor had his team up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter with only four pass attempts. James Madison’s first score of the game came off the heels of a blocked punt by senior linebacker Justin Wellons on Youngstown State’s opening drive that gave James Madison the ball at the Youngstown 18.
Two plays later, quarterback Bryan Schor connected with tight end Jonathan Kloosterman for the 14-yard touchdown to give James Madison its first points of the game. The James Madison defense would then force a three-and-out against Youngstown on the ensuing drive and conduct a swift 4 play 50-yard drive highlighted by a 30-yard rush by Khalid Abdullah to set up an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bryan Schor to Rashard Davis two plays later.
Youngstown State (12-4) had a hard time getting the ball downfield against a stingy James Madison defense. The offense was limited to just 7 first downs and only 88 yards of total offense after running 31 plays on offense in the first half.
Running back Khlaid Abdullah would make history for James Madison to begin the second quarter as he set the all-time single-season school record for rushing touchdowns as his 21st of the season put James Madison up 21-0.
Youngstown State would stop the bleeding a little as they managed to muster a scoring drive late in the second quarter after a forced punt only traveled to the JMU 29 put Youngstown State in a prime scoring opportunity.
Three plays later quarterback Hunter Wells connected with Shane Kuhn for the 17-yard scoring hook up. That touchdown would put the score at a manageable 21-7 with James Madison heading into the half with the advantage.
The James Madison defense proved to be a stout aspect of the team as they forced Youngstown into 18 different third down situations where Youngstown State was only able to convert eight of them. The defense had two takeaways with a fumble recovery and Patterson’s interception which lead to Abdullah’s second rushing touchdown of the day six plays later.
On the afternoon, Abdullah finished with 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns which garnered him the FCS Championship Most Outstanding Player.
Head coach Mike Houston in his first season saw his team leave Frisco as National Champions to claim the title for the first time since 2004.
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