James Madison's playoff chances have become increasingly difficult after a 21-17 loss to No. 1 Richmond Saturday afternoon.
JMU, the reigning conference champions, dropped to 2-3 on the season and have yet to win a conference game, falling to 0-2 in the CAA. With six games remaining, the Dukes most likely have to win out to earn a trip to the FCS playoffs. Only one team in the last two years has made the playoffs with a 7-4 record.
Down four late in the fourth quarter, freshman quarterback Justin Thorpe fumbled inside the ten helping Richmond, the defending FCS champions, survive and stay undefeated.
Thorpe, who got the nod over junior Drew Dudzik under center, completed seven of 15 passes for 87 yards while rushing for 42. The redshirt freshman also threw two interceptions. Richmond didn't have any turnovers in the game.
The Spiders led 14-3 after the first quarter by two one-yard scores from Ben Keating. The Dukes cut the deficit on Dudzik's first series of the game in the second quarter, as the junior connected with Rockeed McCarter on a 38-yard touchdown pass. Dudzik finished three of six for 68 yards.
JMU took a 17-14 lead after Corwin Acker returned a blocked punt 15 yards to the endzone. The score stayed the same until 7:20 left in the fourth quarter when Richmond's Eric Ward completed a six-yard touchdown pass to Keating, giving the Spiders a 21-17 advantage. The touchdown pass was Ward's 54th of his career, tying the school record.
It looked as if the Dukes were going to make a comeback after a long drive that chewed up the clock, but with under a minute left Thorpe lost the ball.