Special teams helping lead James Madison to 2-0 start

James Madison long-snapper Jack Mowrey celebrates after the Dukes defeat Virginia 36-35 on...
James Madison long-snapper Jack Mowrey celebrates after the Dukes defeat Virginia 36-35 on Sept. 9, 2023(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 10:22 AM EDT
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(WHSV) - For a second-straight game, the James Madison special teams unit made its presence felt.

After blocking a punt Week 1 and getting production in the punt return game from Cheese Sarratt, the unit made an immediate impact during the first quarter of JMU’s win over Virginia.

Following a JMU touchdown drive, the Dukes defense forced Virginia to punt. But when the Dukes punt return unit took the field on fourth down, linebacker Aiden Fisher liked what he saw.

“All week, we kind of had a look that we thought we had enough speed off the edge to get there and kind of get a hand across and be able to hit that ball. The look we kept getting was continuous through film. Once we were able to see it [Saturday], we were quick to call it and took advantage of the opportunity.”

When Virginia snapped the ball, Fisher came racing off the edge and was able to block the Virginia punt. The ball was recovered by JMU in the endzone for a touchdown, giving the Dukes a 14-0 lead.

“We take pride in that here,” said Fisher discussing the Dukes special teams. “Coming in from last year, we kind of had a couple things go the opposite way. This year, we harped on it, we emphasized that we have to have a three-headed monster this year. Offense, defense, special teams, we want to be sharp on each side of the ball.”

Head coach Curt Cignetti says special teams provided the winning edge on Saturday.

“We felt like that was an area we wanted to improve from last season,” said Cignetti. “We have more depth on our team this year. We have a chance to be better on special teams.”