The James Madison University Dukes (4-0, 2-0 Sun Belt Conference) continued their undefeated season Saturday as they trounced Texas State (2-3, 0-1 Sun Belt Conference) by a score of 40-13.
The two teams felt the effects of Hurricane Ian as Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was showered with rain, leaving rough conditions for both squads to work in. Head coach Jake Spavital admitted that JMU fared a little better in the bad weather.
"They handled elements a little better than we did, we weren't as good on critical downs as they were, they made some explosive plays on third downs," Spavital said. "We knew there would be some adversity just based off the elements, and we told the kids to keep fighting. I do think they kept fighting. It really just comes down to execution."
Just a week after amassing 479 total yards on offense, Texas State was held to 246 yards by the Dukes, with 201 of those yards coming in the second half, after JMU had already built a 19-0 lead.
Texas State looked to have some momentum after the half when they went on an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that included a couple of big throws to senior receiver Marcell Barbee. The touchdown, a 17-yard pass from junior quarterback Layne Hatcher to freshman receiver Charles Brown, put the Bobcats on the board at 26-7, and was the first third-quarter-touchdown the Bobcats have scored all season.
An interception on a come-back route from senior cornerback Kordell Rodgers, his fourth interception this year, set the Bobcat's offense up with chance in the third quarter to close the gap even more. However, the drive stalled as Texas State was unable to convert a fourth-and-three from the JMU 31-yard line.
The same story repeated a few more times: the Bobcats' defense got stops, but their offense couldn't capitalize.
Eventually, JMU put the finishing touches on their win with a four-yard touchdown run from junior running back Latrele Palmer. The score gave JMU a 33-7 lead with just 8:53 to play in the game.
Texas State was able to force three turnovers, including JMU's first interception of the season, but the Bobcats made more mistakes of their own.
On Texas State's third drive, a pass to senior receiver Javen Banks was broken up by senior safety Sam Kidd and tipped into sophomore linebacker Taurus Jones' hands. Later, on a fourth-and-eight punt from the Texas State 27-yard line, a wild snap went over the head of junior punter Seamus O'Kelly and out the back of the end zone for a safety. Another Bobcat miscue was Hatcher's pick-six that came the very play after junior cornerback Chris Mills forced a JMU fumble.
Spavital and company will look to clean things up and right the ship next weekend against Appalachian State.
"The message to the team after the game was that everybody's gotta look theirselves in the mirror because the consistency individually is not where it needs to be," Spavital said. "We still got seven games left, so we need to respond."
The game between Texas State and Appalachian State is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos.