7th-Ranked James Madison Edges Tigers, 17-13
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 10/09/2010
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Dominique Booker had a career-high 74 yards in the Tigers' loss against...
Courtesy:Towson Athletics

By Kate Harman

TOWSON, Md. - 17. The least amount of points given up by the Tigers defense all season long.

Zero. The number of turnovers the Tigers had for the second straight week.

1-5, 0-3. Towson's overall and conference record after losing, 17-13, to the James Madison University Dukes (3-1) in a pivotal Colonial Athletic Association match-up in front of a crowd of 9,049 fans at Johnny Unitas® Stadium on Saturday night.

The numbers just don't add up.

Going into Saturday's game, Towson had lost to both previous CAA opponents so far this season by a total of 39 points and hadn't won a game since their five-overtime victory over Coastal Carolina on September 11. Meanwhile, the Dukes were coming off a tough 13-10 loss to University of Delaware, who sits atop the CAA standings.

"Yes, we are getting better," Towson Coach Rob Ambrose said. "The kids are playing harder, they are playing smarter and doing things we need to do to be in games and not get blown out. The kids work hard and it pays off. I'm proud."

The Tigers got off to a quick start when Nick Wallace made a field goal on the first drive of the game, putting the Tigers up, 3-0, and netting the first offensive points the team has scored in the first quarter since last November.

Drew Dudzik threw a 44 yard pass to Dae'Quan Scott with 5:19 remaining the first quarter to put the Dukes ahead, 7-3. There were just two plays on a drive that went 68 yards.

After a three and out by the Tigers, the Dukes marched down the field and after back-to-back penalties by Towson, James Madison had a first-and-goal on the one-yard line.

Dudzik ran the ball in from the one-yard line, expanding the Dukes' lead to 14-3 with 24 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Tigers committed three penalties on the scoring drive, including an unnecessary roughness call in the end zone and an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction on the Tiger bench.

With 11:50 left in the half, defensive back Ray White tipped a pass and Chris Patterson came up with the ball, giving the Tigers the ball in JMU territory.

The Tigers couldn't capitalize though as the offense couldn't convert a first down.

Junior quarterback Chris Hart played virtually every offensive down, a contrast from previous weeks where Hart had been splitting time with Bart Blanchard.

"There's one reason why Chris Hart played as much as he did tonight," Ambrose said. "Because he didn't turn it over. Chris protected the ball and thus, he kept playing."

Hart rushed for 83 total yards and threw for 92 yards. He also punted the ball three times, two of which landed inside the Dukes' 20-yard line.

Dominique Booker's 21-yard run touchdown with less than three minutes remaining in the half and Wallace's extra point brought the Tigers within four, 14-10, a score that would hold until halftime.

Wallace brought the Tigers within one, 14-13, with 8:36 left in the third quarter when he made a 38-yard field goal, the longest during his brief tenure at Towson.  

The Dukes countered with a field goal of their own after a lengthy 17-play, 94-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. Ben Hopewell converted a 21-yard field goal to give James Madison its first score since the first quarter.

"That was all the offensive line, " Dudzik said of the drive. "They just did a great job opening up holes for the backs to hit."

"I think our offensive line came up big today and came up big in the fourth quarter," he added.

With less than five minutes left in the game, Ambrose made a gutsy call on 4th-and-13 that paid off when Hart completed a 16-yard pass to Erron Banks, bringing the Tigers to the 35-yard line and keeping the drive alive.

A minute later, Towson couldn't convert another fourth down attempt and turned the ball over to JMU, who made one first down and then ran out of the clock.

"You keep running at somebody for four quarters and eventually they'll get soft," said JMU tailback Scott Noble, who had 58 yards on seven carries.

The Tigers have a bye week before facing Richmond in Robins Stadium October 23 at 3:30 p.m.

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