JMU Football upset bid falls short in season opener at WVU

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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (JMU Athletics) -- West Virginia scored 10 points in a span of 1:43 of the fourth to hold off James Madison 20-13 in the 2019 football opener on Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Ben DiNucci enters locker room after season opening loss to West Virginia.

WVU moved to 1-0 on the young season in front of a capacity crowd of 61,891, while the Dukes, ranked No. 2 in the STATS FCS Top-25, fell to 0-1.

With the game all square at 10-10, the Mountaineers nailed a 43-yard field goal with 10:26 to play to take a 13-10 lead. On the next play, JMU turned the ball over on an interception, and WVU connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass three plays later to Tevin Bush. JMU added a field goal later in the fourth and forced WVU into a punt with 58 seconds to play, but was unable to muster a game-tying scoring drive to fall by a score.

The Dukes dominated the line of scrimmage, holding the Mountaineers to only 34 rushing yards and 1.4 yards per carry. JMU also produced eight tackles for loss, led by 2.0 apiece from redshirt junior safety Wayne Davis and redshirt senior defensive end Ron’Dell Carter. Redshirt senior linebacker Dimitri Holloway paced the defense with 13 tackles (8 solo), while six others tallied four tackles.

The Dukes held a 328-294 advantage in total offense, though the Mountaineers finished +3 turnover margin, committing no giveaways on the day. The Dukes ran for 172 yards, led by redshirt freshman running back Solomon Vanhorse, who had 12 carries for 55 yards and his first college touchdown.

Redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci had 192 yards of offense, going 13-of-20 for 156 yards, adding 36 more on the ground. Two receivers tied for team-high honors, with four receptions, as redshirt senior Brandon Polk had 66 yards and redshirt sophomore Kyndel Dean had 63, which included a team-long, 29-yard grab.

The Dukes got on the board first, taking a 7-0 lead with 1:47 left in the first on a nine-yard touchdown by Vanhorse, capping a seven-play, 80-yard drive. WVU added a field goal before the half to bring the margin to 7-3.

The Mountaineers opened the third quarter with a quick score on a 28-yard touchdown pass by Austin Kendall to George Campbell to give WVU a 10-7 advantage. A 29-yard field goal by Ratke knotted it up at 10-10 heading to the fourth.


JMU limited West Virginia to only 107 total yards in the first half, including 18 rushing (1.8 per carry).
Redshirt junior safety D’Angelo Amos recorded the team’s lone sack, the first full sack of his career
Redshirt junior kicker Ethan Ratke was 2-of-3 on field goals, knocking down a 29 yarder in the third and a 31 yarder in the fourth. He now stands at third place all-time at JMU with 33 career field goals.
Junior punter Harry O’Kelly averaged 42.8 yards per punt on his five attempts, which is nearly three yards higher than his career average. That included a long of 51.
JMU finished 5-of-14 on third down, while WVU was just 6-of-18. The Dukes were also 3-of-4 in the red zone, with WVU’s stop coming on a blocked field goal.
Kendall was 27-of-42 passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns, finding Sam James and Kennedy McKoy six times each. Bush led all players with 74 yards receiving, which including the game-clinching touchdown.


JMU opens its home slate on Saturday, Sept. 7 when it hosts Saint Francis (Pa.). Kickoff is set for a 6 p.m. start at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Washington and streamed live on MadiZONE.