Johnson playing with consistency as playoffs approach

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - James Madison quarterback Cole Johnson is playing his best football as the Dukes prepare for the start of the FCS Playoffs.

“Cole has been around a long time,” said JMU head coach Curt Cignetti. “He’s a real smart, level-headed guy. He’s got talent. He sees the field really well. He’s deceptive with his mobility.”

Johnson has started every game for JMU during the spring season but his hold on the No. 1 job has not always been firm. The redshirt senior struggled at times in wins over Robert Morris and Elon, getting benched in the second half against the Phoenix. Gage Moloney stepped in and led the Dukes to a comeback win at Elon and was scheduled to start a home game against William & Mary on Saturday, March 13 until a COVID-19 outbreak led to a temporary shutdown of the JMU program.

When the Dukes were able to resume action and play at William & Mary on Saturday, March 27, Moloney was unavailable leading to Johnson returning to the starting lineup. He played well against the Tribe, completing 16-of-22 passes for 220 yards and a TD in a 38-10 victory. Johnson remained the starter for JMU when the Dukes hosted Richmond on Saturday, April 17. He led the Dukes to a victory over the Spiders by completing 16-of-25 passes for 235 yards and securing the win with a 31-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter. Johnson has thrown for 907 yards and four passing touchdowns to go along with four interceptions while completing 67.3% of his passes this spring.

“I thought (Johnson) played really well against William & Mary, I thought he took another step forward against Richmond,” said Cignetti. “He’s playing with confidence and (we are) looking forward to him having another big day on Saturday.”

JMU is scheduled to host VMI Saturday afternoon in the first round of the FCS Playoffs. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Bridgeforth Stadium with video coverage on ESPN3.

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