Sunday, January 8, 2017
Kings of FCS! James Madison Tops Youngstown State 28-14 for 2nd Football National Championship
Attendance: 14,423 + National TV audience
FRISCO, Texas - James Madison held Youngstown State to 292 total yards on Saturday afternoon and rolled to a 28-14 victory, as the Dukes captured the FCS 2016 NCAA Division I Football Championship, the second title in program history.
The Dukes, who finished the season 14-1 and undefeated against FCS foes, saw their defensive line dominate from start to finish, holding the Penguins (12-4) to just 21 rushing yards after YSU entered the contest averaging 257.5 yards on the ground.
Senior linebacker Gage Steele paced an all-around dominant performance by the JMU defense, racking up six tackles, including five solo stops, a pair of sacks and a pass breakup as the Dukes forced a pair of crucial turnovers in the third quarter to put the game away.
No defensive player had more tackles for the Dukes than junior defensive back Jordan Brown's seven, but nine different players had at least three, while sophomore defensive back Curtis Oliver picked off his second pass of the season and sophomore Darrious Carter scooped up a fumble.
Senior running back Khalid Abdullah ended his career in style, rushing 26 times for 101 yards and a pair of scores for an afternoon that put him atop the JMU record books in career touchdowns, single-season touchdowns and single-season rushing yards.
The Dukes needed just 12 passes to take home the trophy, as junior quarterback Bryan Schor went 7-of-12 for 112 yards with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to junior tight end Jonathan Kloosterman and senior wide receiver Rashard Davis.
JMU put the Penguins in an early hole, as Abdullah stretched the lead to 21-0 on a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 8:17 to play before halftime, though YSU responded with a touchdown of its own less than five minutes later.
Abdullah scored from two yards out with 10:10 to play in the third quarter for an advantage that proved to be all the Dukes' defense needed, as Youngstown State managed just one more scoring drive that ended with 10 seconds left before the final whistle.
JMU captured its second NCAA Division I Championship in program history, joining the 2004 team that defeated Montana 31-21 in Chattanooga. The Dukes are the eighth FCS program to earn multiple national titles and the first ever with multiple in the Colonial Athletic Association. JMU ended the five-year national-title run by North Dakota State and became the first CAA national champion since Villanova in 2009.
Head Coach Mike Houston earned his first career national championship, having finished runner-up in the NCAA Division II title game at Lenoir-Rhyne in 2013. Houston improved to 5-1 all-time in the FCS playoffs, 4-0 at JMU thanks to the 2016 run.
JMU won its 12th game in a row for the longest active streak in FCS football and second-longest in all of Division I behind Alabama (26)
JMU's 14-1 overall record included a perfect 14-0 mark against FCS opponents and set a new school record for victories
JMU finished as the nation's leader in scoring margin at +25.5 points per game, second in points per game (46.7) and 16th in points allowed (21.2)
JMU went 6-0 vs. ranked opponents this season, all during the last seven contests
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Abdullah became JMU's single-season rushing record holder with 1,809 yards, passing record-holder Rodney Landers (1,770 in 2008).
Abdullah increased his school records for season (22) and career (41) rushing touchdowns as well as his records for combined rushing and receiving touchdowns for season (25) and career (45)
Abdullah is also JMU's season (150) and career (270) record holder for scoring
Schor climbed to eighth in career total offense with 4,697 yards
Schor tied for fifth in career touchdown passes with 35
JMU set CAA records for single-season rushing offense (4,125), total offense (7,612) and first downs (380)
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
JMU finished the season 16th nationally in points allowed after ranking 77th in 2015 in that category. In addition to allowing 21.2 points per game, the Dukes limited opponents to 16.4 points per game over the last eight games and 15 per game in the playoffs, all against ranked teams. Also, 21 of the 60 postseason points allowed came in the final two minutes of games in which the outcome was already decided.
COURTESY JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS