football Edit

FIELD NOTES: Three Plays Houston Showed His Team

James Madison players celebrate after beating Richmond this past Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg.
Daniel Lin/DN-R

HARRISONBURG – There were three plays James Madison coach Mike Houston wanted his team to see from its win over Richmond this past Saturday.

So, he showed his Dukes the three moments that helped define its 20-13 victory during their film review on Sunday.

“The first clip I showed them was the fake field goal,” Houston said during his weekly press conference at O’Neill’s Grill. “Because you never know what play is the play in each ball game.”

JMU senior linebacker Kyre Hawkins tackled Richmond’s Joe Mancuso, the Spiders’ holder, when Mancuso took the snap and scurried to his left on a fourth-and-2 from JMU’s 16-yardline.

Hawkins’ stop prevented Richmond from getting points on that drive during the fourth quarter.

“Then we watched Trai’s [Sharp] touchdown,” Houston said. “And then we watched the final play of the game and the celebration that followed that because that emotion and that intensity you saw in our players celebrating that win shows the significance of the rivalry to our program and also that special moment commemorating our seniors on senior day.”


- JMU’s win over Richmond gave the program back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history.

- The Dukes can claim consecutive Colonial Athletic Association titles with a victory at Elon on Saturday. JMU beat Elon 63-14 in Harrisonburg last year, but the Phoenix are 8-2 this season under first-year coach Curt Cignetti.

- Complimenting Elon’s growth, Houston said, “It’s hard to imagine this is the same team we played at the end of the year last year.”

- Houston said Elon has improved on the offensive line, which has powered a downhill running game regardless of who is playing running back. Before an injury, Elon running back Malcolm Summers was one of the nation’s top-leading rusher. Without Summers, the Phoenix have leaned on De’Sean McNair and Brelynd Cyphers at the position.

- On defense, the Phoenix use a 3-3-5 stack. JMU saw a 3-3-5 stack earlier in the season when the Dukes hosted Villanova. Elon’s new defensive coordinator, Tony Trisciani, was Villanova’s secondary coach under longtime head coach Andy Talley for the last five seasons before joining the Phoenix.

- Houston said it is helpful for JMU that it has faced Villanova already because preparing for the stack defense can be tricky. Since JMU’s offensive line has seen the defense, the group is a little more familiar with it.