Dukes’ fo­cus is get­ting back to fun­da­men­tals

They’re still ‘very both­ered’ by last Satur­day’s loss

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - SPORTS 2 - BY WAYNE EPPS JR. wepps@times­dis­patch.com (804) 649-6442 @wayneepp­sjr

In last Satur­day’s 35-24 loss at New Hamp­shire, James Madi­son was hurt by an un­char­ac­ter­is­tic num­ber of mis­takes.

The Dukes sur­ren­dered six turnovers. It was the most turnovers given up by JMU since 2015, the sea­son be­fore coach Mike Hous­ton was hired.

Com­ing off that per­for­mance, Hous­ton said his team needs to play the way the pro­gram is built.

“We’ve got to keep our fo­cus on the things that we be­lieve in, that we es­tab­lished when we first got here,” Hous­ton said.

In the Colo­nial Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion stand­ings, No. 9-ranked JMU (6-3, 4-2 CAA) is tied for third with Stony Brook and Tow­son, and it’s among a group of six teams separated by just a game. Delaware and Maine at 5-1, and Elon at 4-1, are ahead.

The Dukes host Rhode Is­land (5-4, 3-3 CAA) at 2 p.m. on Satur­day at Bridge­forth Sta­dium.

“Our team has a lot of pride in the way we play,” Hous­ton said. “Ob­vi­ously they’re very both­ered about the per­for­mance on Satur­day. And we ex­pect our group to be very mo­ti­vated to get back out on the field and play bet­ter this Satur­day.”

At New Hamp­shire, ju­nior start­ing quar­ter­back Ben DiNucci was re­placed by ju­nior Cole John­son in the first quar­ter, af­ter DiNucci lost a fum­ble and threw an in­ter­cep­tion.

John­son fin­ished 31 of 48 for 398 yards pass­ing and three in­ter­cep­tions.

CAA stand­ings

Conf.

All

Delaware 5 1 Maine 5 1 Elon 4 1 James Madi­son 4 2 Stony Brook 4 2 Tow­son 4 2 Rhode Is­land 3 3 Wil­liam & Mary 2 3 New Hamp­shire 2 4 Vil­lanova 1 5 Rich­mond 1 5

Al­bany 0 6

Satur­day’s Games Tow­son at Elon, Noon

Delaware at Stony Brook, 1 p.m. Wil­liam & Mary at Vil­lanova, 1 Al­bany at New Hamp­shire, 1 Rhode Is­land at James Madi­son, 2 Maine at Rich­mond, 3

7 6 6 6 6 6 5 3 3 4 3 2 2 3 2 3 3 3 4 5 6 5 6 7

He and DiNucci com­peted for the start­ing job be­fore the sea­son.

Asked about the plan at quar­ter­back, Hous­ton said they’ll play who gives them the best chance to win Satur­day.

Rhode Is­land has se­nior JaJuan Law­son back at quar­ter­back. Law­son missed four games with a knee in­jury, but re­turned last Satur­day in Rhode Is­land’s 24-21 loss at Elon. He was 25 of 35 for 349 yards, three touch­downs and an in­ter­cep­tion.

“The thing that stands out to me is just you can see [Law­son’s] lead­er­ship, you can see the way every­body ral­lies around him,” Hous­ton said.

The Rams have a tal­ented re­ceiv­ing corps, headed by ju­nior Aaron Parker, whose 92.9 yards a game lead the CAA.

JMU will honor its 11 se­niors Satur­day. Hous­ton hopes it’s a se­nior day that yields pos­i­tive me­mories.

“It’s an im­por­tant game for our play­ers, not only for the im­pli­ca­tions with the CAA race, but also out of re­spect for a group of se­niors who have done some pretty spe­cial things in their time at James Madi­son Uni­ver­sity,” Hous­ton said.

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