HARRISONBURG, Va. – Despite a late fourth quarter Spider rally, the No. 19/21 James Madison Dukes held on to defeat the Richmond Spiders, 38-31, in CAA football action Saturday evening at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg, Va.
QB Michael Strauss led the Richmond offense as he went 41-for-61 for a career-high 423 yards and two touchdowns. With his effort, Strauss set single-game school records in completions, attempts and finiched second all-time in passing yards. WR Reggie Diggs led the receiving corps with 136 yards off of eight catches with a long of 37 yards, setting career highs in all three categories.
Defensively, DB Reggie Barnette totaled a team-high nine tackles and 2.0 tackles for a loss, while LB Eric Wright tallied eight tackles and three sacks for a loss of 17 yards, which were his firsts of his career. DB Justin Grant totaled seven tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss and registered his first-career interception.
In the Spiders first possession of the game, Strauss quickly pushed the ball up the field 52 yards on 14 plays, which included three third-down conversions. Strauss found Stephen Barnette for 13 yards to the James Madison 21, but Richmond had to send the field goal team out as Jordi registered his third field goal for at least 40 yards this season to put the Spiders up 3-0 five minutes in.
After a quick Duke score, the Spiders were forced to give the ball right back to James Madison on its 23 yard-line with a 41-yard punt by K Joe Gulli, Jr. But the Spiders collected the first interception of the game to extend its 16-game streak when DB Justin Grant picked up the first of his career to put the Spiders on their 47.
On their next possession, Strauss led the offense down field to the 29 yard-line that allowed Jordi to come on for his third attempt of the game, a 39-yard field goal that brought the Spiders within one, with 8:50 left in the half.
The Spider defense ended the first half on a high note, forcing the third-straight JMU punt when LB Eric Wright registered his third sack in the first 30 minutes. At the halftime break, Richmond trailed the No. 19/21-ranked James Madison Dukes, 7-6.
In the first half, the Spiders outgained JMU 159-144 and converted on four of its nine third downs. Richmond also led in time of possession, 16:30-13:30.
To start the second half, James Madison quickly went ahead 14-6 when it returned the kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Richmond responded as it cut the lead to 14-9 with a 21-yard field goal, in a drive that consisted of three third-down conversions.
After JMU’s third touchdown in the third quarter, Richmond began the fourth quarter with its first touchdown of the game. Strauss connected on a five-yard pass to FB Seth Fisher that capped a 10-play drive for 84 yards to cut the JMU lead to 28-16 with 14:13 on the clock.
The Dukes secured the game with a 39-yard touchdown pass with 11:14 left on the clock after a 46-yard field goal 30 seconds before.
Richmond sparked a two-touchdown run in less than three minutes with 8:31 left in the game. Green found the end zone at the 10:06 mark on a 15-yard run, before Strauss found Edwards on a seven-yard pass to make it a 38-28 ball game with 7:22 to go.
With 5:21 left in the game, Richmond started a 13-play drive for 60 yards that resulted in the fifth field goal of the game that made it a seven-point game but the Dukes claimed the onside kick and eventually ran out the clock.
The Spiders will be back in action when they travel to conference foe Rhode Island Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.