Ten Dukes earn spot on HERO Sports FCS All-America teams

The No. 2 James Madison football team defeated No. 23 New Hampshire, 54-16, Saturday evening at Bridgeforth Stadium.
The No. 2 James Madison football team defeated No. 23 New Hampshire, 54-16, Saturday evening at Bridgeforth Stadium.(WHSV)
Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 3:40 PM EST
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James Madison was well represented on the 2019 HERO Sports FCS All-America Team, as the Dukes led the nation with 10 All-America selections, headlined by redshirt senior defensive end Ron’Dell Carter and junior offensive lineman Liam Fornadel earning First Team honors.

Second Team All-America honorees included redshirt senior quarterback Ben DiNucci, senior defensive end John Daka, redshirt senior linebacker Dimitri Holloway and redshirt junior punt returner D’Angelo Amos. Four more earned Third Team All-America laurels in junior running back Percy Agyei-Obese, senior offensive lineman Mac Patrick, senior safety Adam Smith and redshirt junior kicker Ethan Ratke.

Carter was voted Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year and is a top-three finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award. He has tallied 25.0 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, which ranks second and tied for 10th nationally, respectively. Carter has produced 57 total tackles, to go with a forced fumble and 13 quarterback hurries. He has at least 2.0 TFL in seven games and has at least 1.0 sack in nine games, including seven of the past eight outings.

Fornadel and Patrick spearhead JMU’s offensive line that has helped JMU lead the country in completion percentage (71%) while also ranking second nationally in scoring (42.1%) and third-down conversions (55.5%), third in pass efficiency (172.64), sixth in red-zone scoring (91.8%), seventh in total offense (472.9) and 10th in rushing (250.9).

DiNucci was voted CAA Offensive Player of the Year after being one of the nation’s most efficient passers in 2019. He leads the FCS in completion percentage (71.2%) and is second in pass efficiency rating (172.4). He is 227-of-319 for 2,982 yards and 25 touchdowns with only five interceptions. DiNucci has also rushed for 498 yards and six scores. He’s thrown at least two touchdowns in nine games and has over 200 passing yards nine times this season.

Daka, who finished seventh in the Buck Buchanan Award voting, leads the nation with a JMU single-season record 16.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss. He’s tallied 58 total tackles, to go with four forced fumbles, one recovery, three pass breakups and 10 quarterback hurries. Daka registered at least 2.0 TFL in eight games and 2.0 or more sacks six times.

Holloway leads the defense with 111 total tackles this season, which ranks third by a CAA player. He’s also contributed 10.5 tackles for loss, including a career-high 3.5 in the FCS quarterfinal win, and has 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble, three recoveries and five pass breakups. Holloway turned in double-digit tackles four times and had at least seven stops in 10 outings.

Amos was once again one of the nation’s best punt returners, as he ranks fifth nationally with a 13.7 punt-return average. He has 28 returns for 384 yards and a touchdown and has also blocked three kicks this year, which is good for second nationally. Also a starter at safety, Amos has 47 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions and three breakups.

Agyei-Obese became the latest member of the 1,000-yard club and ranks fifth nationally in rushing touchdowns. He has 228 carries for 1,098 yards and a CAA-best 19 rushing touchdowns. Agyei-Obese averages 4.8 per carry and is the CAA’s top scorer amongst offensive players, with 8.1 points per game. Agyei-Obese turned in five 100-yard rushing performances this season, including a career-high 130 yards against New Hampshire, and has scored two or more touchdowns in seven games.

Smith had a knack at finding the football in the secondary this year, as he registered six interceptions, which ranks second in the CAA and 11th nationally. Smith is JMU’s second-leading tackler with 60 tackles, to go with a tackle for loss, one fumble recovery and a team-high eight pass breakups. He had five of his six picks during conference play, including a stretch of one in four straight games.

Ratke has set all sorts of kicking records, as he’s JMU’s single-season and career leader in field goals. He has converted 22-of-28 field goals in 2019 and has hit 74-of-75 point after attempts. Ratke’s 140 points is just 10 shy of JMU’s single-season scoring record, and he already owns the career scoring record, at 299 points. Ratke is eighth nationally with 1.57 field goals per game and sixth in scoring, at 10.0 points per game.

JMU paced the country with 10 HERO Sports All-Americans, and were followed by North Dakota State, which had eight total selections and an FCS-high five First Team honorees. Montana had five All-America picks, while Montana State, South Dakota State and Austin Peay each had four.


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