Football: No. 5 JMU Routs Elon in Record-Setting CAA Clash

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Harrisonburg, Va. — Backed by a record-setting afternoon by sixth-year senior quarterback Cole Johnson, the James Madison University football team used an explosive second quarter to deflate the Elon Phoenix and add to their three-game winning streak, 45-21, on October 30 in Harrisonburg.

“We struggled the past few weeks offensively, especially in the red zone,” Johnson said. “Putting up a lot of points is just great for our confidence, to see the ball going into the end zone rather than settling for field goals.”

Johnson got the No. 5 Dukes on the board midway through the first quarter when he hit fifth-year senior tight end Clayton Cheatham with an 8-yard touchdown pass. Then early in the second quarter, Johnson connected with redshirt sophomore receiver Reggie Brown on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Five minutes after that, Johnson hit redshirt junior receiver Kris Thornton with a 58-yard pitch-and-catch, and before you knew it, Johnson had something brewing.

“It’s really enjoyable for me, seeing how hard a lot of these guys work in practice,” Johnson said. “And then obviously with the offense struggling the past few weeks and those guys not getting as many touches as they’d like, it’s just great to be back on track offensively.”

Two minutes after the Johnson-Thornton connection, Johnson found redshirt freshman receiver Antwane Wells, Jr. in the corner of the endzone for a 6-yard touchdown before hitting Wells, Jr. with a 13-yard touchdown just before halftime.

It’s always great to spread the ball around to people. It makes for a happy locker room.

—JMU head coach Curt Cignetti

After starting 1-for-2, Johnson ended the first half with 20 straight completions, throwing for 276 yards and a single-half record five scores in the opening 30 minutes.

With a three-score lead heading into the half, the Dukes sent its first team unit back onto the field in the third quarter, when Johnson connected with redshirt junior receiver Devin Ravenel on a 31-yard touchdown pass. Johnson’s touchdown pass to Ravenel—his sixth of the afternoon—set the JMU record for most touchdown passes by a quarterback in a single game in JMU history.

“Cole Johnson had an unbelievable game,” JMU head coach Curt Cignetti said. “It started out with the RPOs in the field, and it feels like we had guys open, and he was just putting the ball there and had time to do it.”

That same touchdown pass to the Dukes’ fifth different receiver, set a JMU record for most touchdown passes to different receivers in a single game in JMU history.

“It’s always great to spread the ball around to people,” Cignetti said. “It makes for a happy locker room.”

While Johnson stole the headlines, the Elon Phoenix put up a tremendous effort early in the game as senior quarterback Davis Cheek matched Johnson score for score through the game’s first 20 minutes.

Less than three minutes after JMU first got on the scoreboard, Cheek hit junior receiver Bryson Daughtry with a 52-yard touchdown pass to even the score out at 7-7. Then, minutes after Johnson hit Brown to retake the lead early in the second quarter, Cheek hit senior receiver Kortez Weeks with a 3-yard touchdown pass to once again even things out.

Despite Cheek’s best effort, the Phoenix never got the ground game going and that—in combination with a rainy second half—stalled the Elon offense, holding them to just 287 yards of total offense compared to the Dukes’ 454.

“We created a really good game plan to spread the ball out and get guys in different situations to exploit the defense,” Johnson said. “It was a great job of creating a great game plan by our coaches.”

JMU is back in action on Saturday, November 6 when it hosts Campbell for Homecoming Weekend. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg.

Derrick Jerry captured 200+ photos at the game!

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Scoring Plays
PeriodTimeTeamGoalScore
1Q5:53JMUCole Johnson to Clayton Cheatham 8-yard TD pass (Ethan Ratke PAT)7-0
1Q3:21ElonDavis Cheek to Bryson Daughtry 52-yard TD pass (Skyler Davis PAT)7-7
2Q14:26JMUCole Johnson to Reggie Brown 4-yard TD pass (Ethan Ratke PAT)14-7
2Q10:17ElonDavis Cheek to Kortez Weeks 3-yard TD pass (Skyler Davis PAT)14-14
2Q9:38JMUCole Johnson to Kris Thornton 58-yard TD pass (Ethan Ratke PAT)21-14
2Q7:23JMUCole Johnson to Antwane Wells, Jr. 6-yard TD pass (Ethan Ratke PAT)28-14
2Q0:50JMUCole Johnson to Antwane Wells, Jr. 13-yard TD pass (Ethan Ratke PAT)35-14
3Q8:28JMUEthan Ratke 32-yard field goal38-14
3Q2:39JMUCole Johnson to Devin Ravenel 31-yard TD pass (Ethan Ratke PAT)45-14
4Q7:48ElonDavis Cheek 1-yard TD run (Skyler Davis PAT)45-21
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Owen Gotimer has a passion for helping people grow and self-educate through new media. Owen spent his college years at Syracuse University, where he studied broadcast and digital journalism in the renowned Newhouse School of Public Communications. In his "free time", Owen volunteers as a varsity baseball coach at John Champe and is the president of the Jeffrey C. Fowler Memorial Scholarship.

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