‘Punch in the Face’: Hofstra Upsets No. 7 James Madison
October 3, 2009
Revenge, redemption and rushing.
The Hofstra Pride revenged a 56-0 drubbing against James Madison last season; redeemed itself after a 47-0 defeat two weeks ago against Richmond; and did it by rushing all over James Madison Saturday to preserve a 24-17 win in a rain-soaked CAA football affair.
“[Hofstra] played like an embarrassed football team. Their kids played hard,” Dukes coach Mickey Matthews said after the game. “They’re a better football team than what they showed against Richmond.”
Hofstra (3-2, 1-1) rushed for 154 yards on a Dukes defense that allows 133 yards a game – ranked 10th in the CAA coming into the game – and received a pair of touchdown catches from freshman tight end Dave Wilson, his first two of his career.
“Coach [Dave Cohen] put me in position to make plays, and I was right there and wide open,” Wilson said.
James Madison (2-2, 0-1) couldn’t solve Hofstra’s rushing attack, even after adjustments were made by the Dukes coaching staff.
“We couldn’t stop ’em. We threw every defense known to man at them,” said Matthews.
Hofstra quarterbacks Steve Probst and Cory Christopher rushed for 44 and 46 yards, respectively, while Everette Benjamin rushed 12 times for 58 yards to lead the Pride. It was Benjamin’s first game back after missing the past two weeks due to injury.
But it was also Hofstra’s daring offensive play calls that made a difference. On fourth down and a yard to go in the first quarter on its own 42, the Pride went for it and got a 22-yard run. Hofstra finished the game 4-5 on fourth down conversions.
“That was the whole game. We couldn’t get off the field,” said Matthews. “When did they miss one? Must’ve been sometime in pregame.”
In front of 2,751 fans, the Pride and Dukes swapped scoring possessions in the first half before a rare 47-minute weather delay due to lightning in the area sent both teams to their locker rooms with just 1:23 remaining in the first half.
When play resumed, Hofstra finished off a 15-play, 66-yard drive with a touchdown to a wide-open Wilson in the back of the end zone.
“[The defender] came right off me, I cut the out, and I was wide open. Right when I turned the ball was right there,” said Wilson, who finished with a team-high four receptions for 68 yards.
The home team’s defense also picked it up and held James Madison to an astoundingly-low 56 yards passing. Duke quarterbacks went a combined 8-14 with one interception. The majority of James Madison’s passing yards came on their last drive in a desperate attempt to tie the game. Quarterback Drew Dudzik hit Rockeed McCarter twice on the final drive for 42 yards.
“Our coaches did a great job preparing us for their different quarterbacks. [Our defense] made plays,” said defensive end Deron Mayo. The Pride had two takeaways, including a fumble recovery that led to a touchdown and an interception that led to a Hofstra field goal.
The Pride’s defense allowed 136 yards on the ground, including 127 to Dukes quarterback Justin Thorpe, who seemed to scramble at will around the Pride. Thorpe finished with a rushing touchdown as well.
Wilson said he thought the Dukes gazed too far ahead to their match-up against No.1-ranked, and CAA rival, Richmond next week.
“In my opinion they looked passed us, and we just punched them in the face and took it from them,” a grinning Probst said.
Hofstra will face Maine in the Pride’s Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 10.