Atlee grad Ratke sends JMU to FCS Semifinals with game-winning kick as time expires

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Former Atlee Raider Ethan Ratke kicked a career-long 46-yard field goal as time expired to give James Madison its 25th consecutive win, a 31-28 victory over Weber State at Bridgeforth Stadium Friday night.

The Dukes trailed the Wildcats 28-20 with 3:14 remaining but were able to score tie it up in a little more than a minute. Bryan Schor threw a touchdown pass to Riley Stapleton, and Trai Sharp ran in a two point conversion. That left the score 28-28 with 2:08 remaining.

Weber State went three and out and punted the ball back to the Dukes. With a little over a minute remaining, JMU got the ball down to the Wildcats’ 29 yard line to set up the winning kick.

The game was tight throughout, with Weber State breaking open the scoring early in the first quarter. Xerrelle Harry intercepted Schor and returned the ball inside the five yard line to set up a rushing touchdown by Kevin Smith. JMU responded immediately with a touchdown run by Marcus Marshall. The Dukes led 10-7 at half.

The JMU defense was stellar in the first half, but Weber State cracked the code after intermission. Quarterback Stefan Cantwell hit Smith for an 81-yard score midway through the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 14-10 lead. After Marshall answered with his second touchdown of the game, the Wildcats scored again on a one-yard run by Cantwell. Weber State became the first team all season to score more than 14 points against the Dukes, and they weren’t done.

After Ratke kicked a field goal, the Wildcats went on 10-play drive that culminated in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Cantwell to Drew Batchelor. The extra point gave Weber State a 28-20 lead, setting up the eventual tying drive.

Marshall led the Dukes’ rushing attack with 128 yards on the ground to go along with his two touchdowns. Schor threw for 359 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Eight of those completions, including the touchdown, went to Riley Stapleton, who finished with 189 yards receiving.

The Dukes advance to play the winner of South Dakota State and New Hampshire. No matter who wins, that game will take place in Harrisonburg.