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Dukes pull an ‘App State’ against App State, come from behind to win, 32-28

Miller Gibbs (91) hauls in a TD reception in the first half on Sept. 24, vs. James Madison at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Photo by David Rogers

By David Rogers for HighCountrySports.net

BOONE, N.C. — After three weeks of ‘miracle’ performances, App Nation might be forgiven in thinking their team walked on football water, that waltzing to another Sun Belt Conference championship was predetermined for the 2022 college football season.

Then along comes James Madison, the gridiron artist formerly known as FCS contender, to throw a monkey wrench in the  wheels of App State’s parade train, 32-28, in front of 33,248 — and at Kidd Brewer Stadium, no less. After falling behind, 28-3, JMU scored 29 unanswered points, winning on every side of the ball.

Dalton Stroman (22) gets valuable yards after the catch and breaks tackles as he enters the end zone on Sept. 24 vs. James Madison at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Photo by David Rogers

As introductions to FBS-level football in a first Sun Belt Conference game goes, it doesn’t get much better for JMU than taking down, even embarrassing one of the league’s powers on their home turf.

And yet, as porous as the Mountaineer defense was in the second half, they gave App State’s offense a chance to win the game with just over two minutes to go.

After Centeio hit wide receiver Terrance Greene, Jr. for a 36-yard TD pass early in the 4th quarter and then made good on a 2-point conversion that pulled the Dukes to within a field goal deficit, 28-25, the Mountaineer faithful hoped for one of App State’s patented, time-consuming offensive drives that put the game out of reach with a TD.

Those hopes were dashed when, on the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Chase Brice’s pass intended for wide receiver Dashaun Davis was intercepted by JMU defensive back Jailin Walker and returned 22 yards to the Mountaineers’ 9-yard line. Two plays later, the Dukes’ redshirt freshman running back Kaelon Black punched the ball across the goal line for a TD and suddenly the Dukes had a 32-28 lead.

Michael Hetzel fights for extra yards after catching a Chase Brice pass vs. James Madison on Sept. 24. Photo by David Rogers

Upon receiving the kickoff, the Mountaineer offense sputtered, giving the ball back to JMU after a three-and-out, with 9:13 left in the game. With the ball again, JMU orchestrated a 15-play drive that took over 7 minutes off the play clock, getting the ball all the way down to the App State 9-yard line before the Mountaineer defense stopped the Dukes on 4th-and-1 to give the offense one more chance to pull out a win with another miracle finish. Could the Mountaineers’ “O” summon up enough of Weeks 1,2, and 3 to pull off another improbable win?

The drive started promising enough, Brice completing a 23-yard pass to last week’s hero, wide receiver Christan Horn. Then, with short pass completions to WR Kaedin Robinson and TE Henry Pearson, Brice manufactured another first down to near midfield, at the App State 41-yardline.

But that is where the drive stalled, with under a minute left in the game. Two incomplete passes, a Brice scramble under pressure that only netted a yard, then another incomplete pass on fourth down, and the ball was turned over to James Madison, Centeio & Co. to simply kneel down and run out the clock. The end wasn’t quite that clear cut. It remains a bit of a mystery that 42 seconds were put back on the clock with the Dukes facing 4th down, but dealing with it was only a formality. They let the play clock run down to zero and the game clock to two seconds, on 4th down. Centeio took the snap, ran backwards for a little more than two seconds, then slid to the ground, game over with time expired.

App State QB Chase Brice uncorks a pass downfield on Sept. 24 against James Madison at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Photo by David Rogers

What went wrong for the Mountaineers?

Appalachian State has a highly touted room of running backs performing behind a mostly veteran offensive line. They have put points on the board, controlled possession, deprived their opponents of opportunities by taking time off the clock… Camerun Peoples and Nate Noel have both run for 1,000 yards in the same season, Peoples leading the Sun Belt in TD runs and just two seasons removed from a record-setting performance in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Daetrich Harrington is an inspiring performer after an injury plagued college career. A third year sophomore transfer from Wake Forest, Ahmani Marshall shows promise after rushing for 2,204 yards and 30 TDs at East Forsyth, including back-to-back 4A state championships in 2018 and 2019. Former high school quarterback Anderson Castle, is now big, powerful, and sure-handed as both ball carrier and receiver.

James Madison’s Dukes were not intimidated. They held the Mountaineers to just 57 yards rushing in the first half, allowing only six more net yards in the second half.  In short, they proved that limiting Middle Tennessee State and Norfolk State to just 21 net yards in the Dukes’ first two games was not a fluke.

Mountaineer WR Dashaun Davis gets loose for a big gain on Sept. 24 against James Madison. Photo by David Rogers

“This was a disappointing loss and a tough one to swallow,” said App State head coach Shawn Clark after the game. “The defense gave us a chance to win by forcing two turnovers and a turnover on downs we scored three touchdowns. Offense did not move the ball at all. We rushed the ball for 63 yards and that is embarrassing. Congratulations to James Madison but we did not do our jobs in all three phases. We can’t let this one loss turn into two. We have a tough opponent next week in The Citadel, but (today) I am very disappointed, very embarrassed. We have to come back, regroup, and get ready to go.”

Speaking to the defensive performance of the Dukes, Clark said, “It is a high pressure defense. They blitz 54 percent of the time. We knew that… They are always going to bring one more down into the box and we knew that. When that happens, you run to the outside. And (passing) we have to make sure we are running the right depth of routes and catch the football. It wasn’t one person or one group. It goes back to being a team game. All three phases need to improve. We have to get that squared away and squared away fast. We are in a tough conference and played against a tough divisional opponent.

“We have to play better and that starts with me. Execution, we have to get that squared away. This one loss is not going to define the season. We have a lot of football left in front of us, but we can’t let one loss turn into two,” Clark added.

The Mountaineers (2-2 overall, 1-1 in Sun Belt) host The Citadel (1-2, 1-1 SoCon) on Oct. 1, with a 3:30 scheduled kickoff.


  • Total Yards – APP 298, JMU 376
  • Pass Yards – APP 235, JMU 204
  • Rushing Yards – APP 63, JMU 172
  • Penalties – APP 6/40, JMU 7/50
  • Turnovers – APP 2, JMU 2
  • Time of Possession – APP 26:32, JMU 33:28
  • 3rd Down Conversions – APP 4/12, JMU 2/14



  • APP Chase Brice 17/28, 235 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
  • JMU Todd Centeio 16/28, 204 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs


  • JMU Kaelon Black 18 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD
  • JMU Todd Centeio 18 carries, 61 yards, 1 TD
  • APP Ahmani Marshall 8 carries, 40 yards
  • JMU Latrele Palmer 7 carries, 39 yards
  • APP Daetrich Harrington 7 carries, 18 yards
  • APP Nate Noel, 6 carries, 13 yards, 1 TD
  • APP Camerun Peoples, 4 carries, 9 yards, 1 TD


  • JMU Reggie Brown 4 rec., 81 yards
  • APP Kaedin Robinson 5 rec., 57 yards
  • APP Dashaun Davis 3 rec., 57 yards
  • JMU Terrance Greene, Jr. 2 rec., 46 yards, 1 TD
  • APP Christan Horn 2 rec., 43 yards
  • APP Dalton Stroman, 1 rec., 27 yards
  • JMU Kaelon Black 1 rec., 23 yards, 1 TD
  • JMU Drew Painter 3 rec., 20 yards
  • APP Miller Gibbs 1 rec., 10 yards, 1 TD