FCS Playoff First Round: VMI at James Madison
By CRAIG HALEY
FCS Playoff First Round
VMI (6-1 Southern) at No. 3 seed James Madison (5-0 CAA)
Site: Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg, Virginia
Kickoff - 2 p.m. ET
TV Coverage - ESPN3
Series - James Madison leads, 10-3 (last meeting: JMU won 44-16 at home on Sept. 19, 2009)
Coaches - VM: Scott Wachenheim (17-46, sixth season); James Madison: Curt Cignetti (19-2, second season; 86-28 overall)
3 Players to Watch - VMI: Seth Morgan (92 of 121, 1,088 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT), WR Jakob Herres (67 receptions, 807 yards, 7 TDs), LB Stone Snyder (76 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 4 QB hurries); James Madison: RB Percy Agyei-Obese (69 carries, 381 yards, 5 TD)s, DT Mike Greene (15 tackles, 8 TFL, 2.5 sacks), SS Wayne Davis (24 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBUs)
The Skinny - VMI has been perhaps the most surprising team of the FCS season, earning its first SoCon title since 1977 as well as a first playoff bid since moving to the FCS in 1982. Morgan, a redshirt freshman, has stepped in for an injured Reece Udinski, averaging 388.3 yards of total offense in three starts. The 6-foot-4 Herres has been on a tear, compiling 48 catches, 597 receiving yards and six TD catches in his last four games. James Madison has run the ball more than 67 percent of the time, and VMI has limited its last four opponents, including two that run the triple option, to 100.8 rushing yards per game. The Dukes have won 15 straight home games. After a shaky start to the season, QB Cole Johnson is 32 of 47 (68.1 percent) for 455 yards over the last two games, and the Dukes' leading receiver is VMI transfer Kris Thornton (17 receptions, 311 yards, 2 TDs). The defense has allowed only 10 points in the second half and kept opponents to a 49.2 completion percentage and 130.2 passing yards per game. Ethan Ratke is 67 of 80 (83.2 percent) on career field goal attempts, kicking at least one in 18 straight games.
Up Next - The winner will play either Missouri State or North Dakota in the second round on May 1 or 2.
Prediction - James Madison 30, VMI 19
Updated April 21, 2021