#1 Dukes ready for semifinal showdown with South Dakota State

The following comes directly from JMU:

HARRISONBURG, Va. – Top-seeded James Madison hosts 5th-ranked South Dakota State in the semifinal round of the NCAA FCS playoffs on Saturday, Dec. 16.

Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. at Bridgeforth Stadium and will be nationally televised on ESPNU. It will also be streamed on ESPN3 and ESPN app and can be heard on the JMU/Sprint Broadcast Network, with pregame coverage starting at 3:30 p.m.

JMU’s run through the 2017 FCS playoffs is presented by Excel Heating and Cooling.

SERIES HISTORY
Saturday marks the first meeting between JMU and SDSU and just the fifth game all-time for the Dukes against a team from the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Dukes are 2-2 versus the Valley, which includes wins at North Dakota State in the 2016 semifinals and against Youngstown State in last year’s national championship game.


.
JMU’S PLAYOFF HISTORY
The Dukes are making their 14th FCS playoff appearance, which includes a program-record fourth straight berth. They have gone 15-11 overall with a pair of national championships – 2004 and 2016. JMU has won multiple playoff games in four postseason trips, going 4-0 in both national title runs, 2-0 this year and 2-1 in 2008 where it reached the national semifinals.

The Dukes are 7-4 all-time at home in the playoffs, including four straight wins at Bridgeforth. They are also 6-7 on the road and 2-0 in neutral-site matchups. In last year’s run to the championship, JMU outscored its four opponents 175-60 (43.75 to 15.0 avg). That included back-to-back games recording program bests for scoring, with 55 against New Hampshire and 65 versus Sam Houston. The 65-7 win over SHSU was the second-largest margin-of-victory by any team in FCS playoff history.

ROAD TO FRISCO GOES THROUGH JMU 
After going undefeated during the regular season and holding a No. 1 ranking in both polls all season long, the FCS Selection Committee awarded JMU the No. 1 seed for the 2017 NCAA FCS playoffs. It’s the second time in school history the Dukes earned the top seed (2008) and a program record third straight year they garnered a national seed and first-round bye. JMU is making its program-record fourth straight playoff appearance in 2017.

SCOUTING SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
The Jackrabbits come to town sporting an 11-2 record as they make the first FCS semifinal appearance in school history. Fifth-seeded SDSU beat Northern Iowa 37-22 in the second round before rolling 56-14 against New Hampshire in last week’s quarterfinals. • Much like JMU’s last opponent, the Jacks enter the semis riding a seven-game win streak and are 4-1 in road games this year. SDSU averages 38.8 points per game while conceding 21.8 per outing. It ranks third nationally in scoring offense.

The Jackrabbits are led by First Team All-MVFC receiver Jake Wieneke and tight end Dallas Goedert. Wieneke is second in the country with 15 receiving touchdowns, while Goedert has six touchdowns and over 1,000 receiving yards. Second Team All-MVFC quarterback Taryn Christion has thrown for 3,281 yards and 33 touchdowns, which ranks second in the FCS. Chase Vinatieri, nephew of Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, leads the country in field goal percentage (92.3%). John Stiegelmeier is in his 21st season at the helm of his alma mater, holding a 147-96 record. He’s led the Jacks to seven FCS playoff appearances since 2009, including a string of six straight (2012-17).

RATKE KICKS JMU TO NATIONAL SEMIS
Ethan Ratke drilled a career-long 46-yard field goal as time expired to lift JMU to a 31-28 come-from-behind win against 11th-ranked Weber State on Dec. 8. Trailing 28-20, JMU scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass by Bryan Schor to Riley Stapleton to make it 28- all with 2:08 to play. After forcing Weber into a three-and-out, JMU got in field-goal range where Ratke converted the longest field goal in JMU playoff history to send the Dukes to the semifinals.

Marcus Marshall rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 9.1 yards per rush. Bryan Schor passed for 359 yards and two touchdowns, which was the second-most passing yards of Schor’s career and in JMU postseason history. Riley Stapleton had a career night with eight catches for 189 yards and a score, while Terrence Alls had six grabs for 117 yards. JMU out-gained the Wildcats 549-329, which included 359-238 through the air. The Dukes improved to 2-1 all-time against the Big Sky Conference, winning for the first time at home.

WIN STREAK AT 25, TIED FOR 2ND IN FCS HISTORY
JMU’s 31-28 triumph in the FCS Quarterfinals marked JMU’s program-record 25th consecutive triumph, which extended the CAA record and longest mark in all of Division I. The win also moved the Dukes into second place all-time in FCS history. JMU is one of three FCS teams with active double-digit win streaks. Celebration Bowl participants Grambling and N.C. A&T have each won 11 consecutive games. Only one FBS level, the lone unbeaten team in UCF has won 12 straight.

The Dukes have also won a CAA-record 18 straight league games and became the league’s first team ever to go 8-0 back-to-back years. The Dukes last saw defeat on Sept. 24, 2016 – a 56-28 setback at ACC-foe North Carolina. JMU has also won 26 straight games against FCS opponents, with the last loss coming on Dec. 5, 2015 versus Colgate in the second round of the playoffs. The Dukes have won 16 straight at Bridgeforth Stadium and hold a program-record 10-game road win streak.

SCHOR HOLDS FOUR JMU CAREER MARKS
Back in October, Bryan Schor broke the career record for passing touchdowns. He followed that up be setting completions record in the second round of the playoffs. Fast forward one more week, and Schor moved into first place all-time in both passing yards and total offense. Schor leads the Dukes all-time with 60 passing touchdowns, 6,727 passing yards, 527 completions and 7,859 yards of total offense. Schor is also second in career pass attempts, at 770. He needs 94 more for that record.

STAPLETON COULD NOT BE STOPPED
You knew he was in for a big night against Weber State from the start. By the end of the night, Stapleton tied one career-high, shattered another and nearly broke a JMU single-game record. The redshirt sophomore corralled eight receptions (tie CH) for a career-best 189 yards and a touchdown in the 31-28 triumph. His 40-yard touchdown catch set up the Dukes to tie it on a 2-point conversion. His 189 receiving yards was a JMU postseason record and just three yards shy of the JMU single-game record for any game.

FCS PLAYOFFS ON ESPNU
JMU and South Dakota State will be nationally televised on ESPNU and can also been seen through the ESPN App. Up in the booth at Bridgeforth Stadium this weekend are play-by-play announcer Roy Philpott and color commentator Tom Ramsey.

JMU SPRINT BROADCAST NETWORK
All 11 regular-season games, as well as any postseason matchups can be heard online on the JMU/Sprint Broadcast Network or on airwaves at WSVA 550AM and 92.1 FM. Dave Thomas is in his third season as the play-by-play man for the Dukes and is joined by Clint Estes on color commentary.

UP NEXT
The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the FCS national championship game and will face the winner of No. 2 North Dakota State or No. 6 Sam Houston State. The Championship game is set to be played in Frisco, Texas on January 6th at noon.