Blue Hens crushed by CAA power JMU 43-20

JMU QB Bryan Schor is chased by Delaware defensive lineman Blaine Woodson. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

JMU QB Bryan Schor is chased by Delaware defensive lineman Blaine Woodson. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

HARRISONBURG, Va. — This was supposed to be the year Delaware became a CAA contender again.

And who knows? Maybe the Blue Hens still will be one.

But Delaware certainly didn’t look like a squad that will have much to say about the Colonial Athletic Association football title on Saturday when it got thumped, 43-20, by No. 7 James Madison before a crowd of 25,236 at Bridgeforth Stadium.

It wasn’t that the Blue Hens (0-1 CAA, 2-2 overall) lost to the Dukes (2-0, 4-1), who may be the league’s best team.

It’s more that Delaware just didn’t seem to have any answers when JMU reeled off 33 unanswered points to open up a gaping 40-7 lead by the first play of the fourth quarter.

“Certainly a bad day for Delaware football,” said Blue Hen coach Dave Brock. “Just a tough day. We didn’t do anything well. And when you do that against a good team, you’re going to get a bad result — and we certainly got a bad result.

“The result of today’s game, it rests squarely on me, not on the players.”

“Coming in, we definitely thought it was going to be a dogfight,” said sophomore linebacker Troy Reeder. “Games like this are built on momentum. I think it’s one of those things where it could be either team on a given day.

“I can speak for our defense, we’ve got to do a better job of stopping the bleeding. Ultimately, hats off to them (JMU). They ran with the momentum that they got and we didn’t take it back.”

In a series where the Hens had won three of the last four meetings, Saturday’s game started out like it might be another battle that went down to the wire.

Both squads missed field goals on their first drives. Both then scored touchdowns on their second possessions.

Wes Hills, in hisw first game back from an elbow injury, cut back and walked into the end zone on a 24-yard scoring run that knotted the score at 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter.

“You feel like, hey, it’s going to be a pretty good street fight,” said Brock.

Instead, the Dukes ended the second quarter by scoring on three straight drives, going up 26-7 at halftime.

In the second half, JMU capped off its memorable day with back-to-back scoring drives of 98 and 91 yards. The Dukes’ 607 total yards were the most by either team in the 24-game series.

Even JMU coach Mike Houston said he was surprised by the margin of the Dukes’ lead in the game.

“I think they are a top-tier team in the CAA this year,” he said about Delaware. “No one expected what happened out there today. …. We got some momentum and all of a sudden you have a three-touchdown lead.”

JMU quarterback Bryan Schor had a big day. He completed 19-of-25 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown while also running for 103 yards and three TDs on 15 carries.

The Hens also had a difficult time tackling running back Khalid Abdullah, who ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Statistically, Delaware wasn’t bad offensively.

The Hens put up 437 yards with Thomas Jefferson (12 carries-92 yards), Hills (8-78) and Jalen Randolph (5-71) all scoring touchdowns. But too many of those yards came when the game was already out of hand.

Delaware converted on only 4-of-12 third-down attempts. JMU also had 32 first downs to 20 for the Hens.

“When the defense is struggling like that, that’s on us to pick them up and put some drives together,” said Randolph. “We didn’t do that today.”

Now the Hens have to figure out how to regroup with a home game against Maine waiting next Saturday afternoon.

“I know Coach Brock and all the leaders on this team know that we can still be the team we want to be,” said Randolph. “We just have to learn from this one, get better and we’ll come out next week and we’ll execute better. That’s all there really is to it.”

“At the end of the day,” said Brock, “we can’t coach like we coached today and we can’t play like we played today if we want to be the team we want to be.

“But I told the players in the locker room, if we take one positive thing out of here — and that might be a stretch — a game counts for one. We’re 0-1 (in the CAA). It may feel like we’re 0-7 but we’re 0-1.”

Extra points

Delaware had won six straight games following a bye week. … Reeder finished with a team-high nine tackles. … QB Joe Walker returned from a foot injury and completed 8-of-19 passes for a season-high 124 yards. He did throw his first interception of the season. … Diante Cherry had six catches for 92 yards as just three other Hens had one reception each. …. JMU cornerback Taylor Reynolds, a Newark High grad, had two pass breakups. … The Hens had won two straight at JMU.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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