CAA Roundup: Dukes hit the road to face ranked foe while Tribe looks for first CAA win

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The match up of James Madison and William and Mary Saturday sent each team farther down the road on which it was already traveling.

The Dukes (5-1, 3-0 CAA) defeated the Tribe (2-4, 0-3 CAA) 31-24 in Harrisonburg. The Dukes now sit atop the CAA. The Tribe, meanwhile, is at the bottom of the league and still seeking its first CAA victory two weeks into October.

Saturday, Madison will face a very tough test when it travels to Durham, NH to face the New Hampshire Wildcats. William and Mary is back at home Saturday. The Tribe hosts Delaware for Homecoming.

The following is additional information directly from JMU:

HARRISONBURG, Va. – After overcoming the weather and fourth-quarter dramatics to down William & Mary, No. 7 James Madison travels north to face New Hampshire on Saturday, Oct. 15 at noon inside Wildcat Stadium in a battle between two 3-0 Colonial Athletic Association squads. The 2016 season is presented by CarMax.

Saturday’s contest will be televised on the American Sports Network.

Saturday marks the 16th meeting all-time between JMU and New Hampshire, but the first since 2013. The Wildcats lead the Dukes 8-7 in the series and have won three straight. This will be the third straight game JMU has played UNH on the road. UNH holds a 5-3 record versus JMU in games played in Durham. The Dukes’ last road win at UNH came back on Oct. 14, 2006 – a 42-23 victory.

Last time they met, the Wildcats won 33-17 in Durham on Nov. 9, 2013. New Hampshire built a 14-0 halftime lead, but JMU trimmed its deficit to 20-17 in the fourth before the ‘Cats scored back-to-back touchdowns to put the game away.

Quintin Hunter made seven receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns, which included a 69-yard touchdown pass from Dae’Quan Scott after he took a lateral from Michael Birdsong. Birdsong was 24-for-43 for 214 yards and a score. Then freshman Taylor Reynolds had a season-high 10 tackles (8 solo).

Khalid Abdullah has quickly surged as one of the most effective backs in JMU history, ranking in the top eight in five separate offensive categories. Through 39 career games, Abdullah ranks tied for fourth with 30 rushing touchdowns, needing just two to tie for the record and three to own it outright.  He is also tied for fourth in total touchdowns (32) and sixth in both rushing yards (2,666) and rush attempts (478).

The Wildcats enters Saturday’s game with a 4-2 record, including a 3-0 mark in CAA play. They defeated W&M at home two weeks ago, 21-12, followed by a 13-10 road win at Elon.

UNH averages 22.0 points per game while conceding 20.0 to its foes. Through six games, the Wildcats have averaged 366 yards of offense, being outgained by just over 10 yards. The ‘Cats account for just over 200 rushing yards per game, with 164 coming through the air.

Dalton Crossan leads the Wildcats’ run game with 619 yards and three touchdowns this year. Trevor Knight has thrown for 908 yards and eight touchdowns on 55 percent passing, but has struggled with eight interceptions. Of his targets, Neil O’Connor leads the way with 25 catches for 276 yards and three scores while Malik Love has totaled 260 yards on the season

Sean McDonnell is the long-time head coach for the Wildcats, holding a 137-80 overall record, now in his 18th season. He has led the Wildcats to 12 straight NCAA playoff appearances, including the semifinals in 2013 and 2014.

One constant JMU has utilized for a 5-1 start is not just running the football, but converting on both sides of the ball on third down. The Dukes rank second nationally in third-down offense, converting a CAA-best 55 percent of the time. Defensively, the Dukes are 26th in FCS, as opposing offenses produce first downs on just 33 percent of its third-down attempts.

Over the last two weeks, JMU has gone 16-for-26 on third down, while Delaware and William & Mary were a combined 9-for-24.

This weekend’s opponent in New Hampshire has consistently proven to be solid on its home field over the last 10 seasons. UNH has won 17 consecutive regular-season home games and is 49-6 in Durham since the start of the 2007 season. JMU has played at New Hampshire twice during that time, falling in 2011 and 2013.