Tough test awaits JMU defense in second round of FCS Playoffs

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 2:33 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The James Madison football team is preparing to host Southeastern Louisiana in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.

SLU will bring one of the best offenses in the the country to Harrisonburg when the Lions and Dukes square off. Southeastern Louisiana leads the nation in scoring at 47.2 points per game while quarterback Cole Kelley leads the FCS with 4,727 passing yards and is tied for the top spot in the county with 42 passing touchdowns.

“Everybody’s gotta do their job,” said JMU head coach Curt Cignetti, when discussing how the Dukes’ defense will try to shut down SLU.

JMU features one of the best defenses in the country. James Madison ranks second in the FCS in total defense (252.6 yards/game), ninth in scoring defense (15.5 points/game) and first in turnover margin (+17).

“(Defensive Coordinator) Corey (Hetherman) will have a great plan put together, he always does,” said Cignetti. “We’ll mix it up. Try to get (Kelley) off his rhythm and we’re gonna have to win the 1-on-1 battles. Gotta win the 1-on-1 battles up front, gotta win the 1-on-1 battles in coverage. We gotta make plays. We gotta tackle real well and play penalty free.”

No. 3 seed James Madison and Southeastern Louisiana are scheduled to meet for a 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Running back health improving for JMU

James Madison is getting healthier at running back as the Dukes prepare for their first playoff game of the 2021 fall season. Cignetti said Tuesday that Lorenzo Bryant Jr. will be back for the SLU game after missing a few contests due to injury and he expects Latrele Palmer to be “closer to 100%” after playing banged up for a few games before the Dukes’ first-round bye in the playoffs.

Palmer leads JMU with 659 rushing yards this season. Running backs Percy Agyei-Obese and Kaelon Black sustained season-ending injuries during the regular season.

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