Dec 9 / Rob

JMU Beats Weber State in a Classic

Wow. Really, just wow. It’s been a few hours now and I still have no idea what just happened. The Dukes defeated Weber State 31-28 in an contest that was almost too good to be true. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but I swear JMU was dead and buried before scoring a TD and 2-pointer to tie, and closing things out with a career long 46 yard field goal at the gun to win. That can’t be though. Can it?

Yes. It really happened. And before we do anything else, let’s pause and appreciate the sheer amazingness of what we witnessed. I mean, deep thoughts and elegant prose aren’t what you expect from JMUSB, but we’re at a complete loss here. That game was simply too good to even attempt to put it into words. Let’s just all agree that we witnessed a classic. A gift that keeps on giving. I swear if you ask me about that game 25 years from now, it’s going to put a smile on my face. I don’t think I’m alone.

Here’s the Good, Bad, and Ugly from the miracle victory.


Weber State – Credit where credit is due. The Wildcats showed up, took every punch JMU threw out them, and threw some haymakers right back. Weber jumped out to an early lead, before JMU rallied to tie things up and eventually take the lead. But Weber wouldn’t go away, eventually figuring out how to make plays against the D. Sure that one will sting for a while, but the Wildcats were impressive.

Marcus Mashall – He had 128 yards and two TDs (with a 3rd called back for holding) on the big stage. The numbers speak for themselves. He was patient, hit the holes, and then went vertical fast. His best game as a Duke.

Riley Stapleton – Bonkers. Just a bonkers game from Stapleton. It wasn’t just the 189 yards receiving. It was the ridiculous catches he made to rack up those yards. Leaping grabs and one handed circus catches FTW!

The Crowd – Playoff games are tricky. They come during a very busy time of year and lots of fans (like yours truly), just can’t make it work. As a result, you often get numbers that pale in comparison to those for regular season games. But man did Bridgeforth seem lit last night. From my perspective as a TV viewer, fans were on their feet and making noise all night. Tip of the hat to the fans and students who braved the cold and played the role of the 12th man.

Ethan Ratke – He hit the biggest kick in Bridgeforth Stadium history.

People Who Believe in the “Clutch Gene” – Fans of sabermetrics will tell you there’s no such thing as being clutch. They say that human beings can’t just dial up another level of performance on demand. And maybe they’re right. I actually believe them. But there’s no other way to describe the last few minutes of the game, other than saying that the Dukes were clutch in all phases.

Repeated Flip Passes to Alls – Can’t believe it kept working. But it did. Alls had 82 yards on three little flip passes that probably didn’t travel a combined 7 feet in the air.


Injuries – The Dukes lost both Jonathan Kloosterman and Jahee Jackson both got hurt and left the game. The line was great at times, but struggled at others. The injuries and contributed to the inconsistency.

Penalties – Bad. Just bad. We never like to dwell on the negative after a big win, but there were some incredibly costly penalties throughout the game. The Dukes are lucky they overcame them.

This Tweet

Yeah, we jinxed it.

Cantwell’s 36 Yard TD Pass for the Lead – Dagger. At least it seemed like one at the time. The JMU defense got beat badly on the play with the game seemingly on the line. Also, there’s no way we’d say this had JMU not rallied, but we absolutely loved the play call from Weber there. Cold blooded.

The Ugly

This Tweet

That was seconds after Weber State scored to go up 28-20. Not proud of it, but yeah, I thought it was over. It’s good to be wrong sometimes.


h/t to @FranchisKF for the Stapleton video.


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  1. Tidewater's Duke / Dec 9 2017

    Incredible, just insane. Riley doing his Daniel Brown, or Josh Doctson imitation! Weber State the real deal, but like their coach said the Dukes had the heart of a champion. Took me two hours and two martinis to get to sleep

  2. Deacon Danny / Dec 9 2017

    Instant classic! Best game in Bridgeforth since JMU vs App St. Gonna take me all week to repair my nerves!

  3. OBXDuke1983 / Dec 9 2017

    That was one hell of a game. It was exactly what playoff football should be (and a bowl game never will be). Every play seemed like it was important and a possible turning point…and often was.
    I must admit I had a bad feeling about the game all night and that last touchdown by WSU crushed my soul. I am just so proud of the team and their incredible confidence and toughness.
    If you would have told me that the game would come down to our freshman backup kicker attempting a 46 yard field goal I would not have liked our chances. What amazing poise for that young kid.
    Happy day to be a Duke.

  4. RB / Dec 9 2017

    penalties have to be under “ugly” – no way for a champion to act. you know the opponent is going to bait you, you have to be better and smarter than that.

    Not sure about putting crowd under good? On TV it did seem loud at critical points but there were several times I heard weber state fans chanting on the broadcast (including defense when the dukes had the ball). that can’t happen and should have been drowned out by dukes fans.

    good was the championship moxie of this team, veterans like schor who made it happen when needed most, inspirational leaders like sharp who had the help of his dad from above to score the conversion, and youngsters like ratke who had ice in his veins but his foot was on fire!

    overall, the dukes had no business winning this game – but they did. hope its the “one” we needed to get refocused — two brutal games left with teams from the dakota territories. Have to be at our best.

  5. Rob K / Dec 9 2017

    I must confess that I also thought the game was over when Weber scored their last touchdown to put us by 8, which was on the heels of the Marcus touchdown run being called back. It was a tough series of events.

    Don’t forget about the flip pass to Alls that went for something like 40-50 yards that was also called back for holding. It was a great way to use him and take their top corner out of direct coverage.

  6. Shadow / Dec 9 2017

    Good — JMU students who didn’t leave after halftime and stayed loud even when it was 28 – 20. It appeared that at least 90% of the students remained for the entire game.

    Good — Touchdown Squirrel winning the food race. Looks like Big John caught up with Touchdown and got him in the weight room — he’s really bulked up. Touchdown Squirrel (aka “TD”?) should be named as Duke Dog’s official sidekick.

    I agree with Deacon Danny that last night’s game was the best at BFS since App State in 2008. Although, I have to say last that last is probably the greatest ever.
    When it was 28 – 20, everyone around me was saying “We’re done” (me included) but we all kept yelling holding onto a glimmer of hope.
    At that time, I kept thinking back to the 8 point semi-final loss to Big Sky champ Montana.
    But, the Dukes tied it up and the place went flippin nuts!!!
    After last night, I’m having to rest my nerves and my voice.

  7. Mike in OHio / Dec 9 2017

    I never really lost hope but admit it did not look good at 28-20. Dukes dodged one last night but one has to admire how they overcame things at all points in that game that could have just led to them rolling over and giving in. The interception right off the bat, the bad personal foul penalties, the holding call on the touchdown run, the missed opportunity to pick up a fumble on a kick off return and subsequent score by Weber, and the initial poor offensive plays on the final drive. Interesting that in two of the biggest wins this year, this game and the Richmond game, it was the running game that provided big plays after they have struggled to run the ball all year. Injuries not looking good but Dukes are in the next round so anything can happen. Exciting to follow it. Go Dukes and on to the semi-finals.

  8. Drake / Dec 9 2017

    Not sure if you guys now, but Georgia got some snow. We live in Kennesaw and got 10 inches. Lost power at 6pm last night. Luckily I had the game set to record, but I just couldn’t wait. We watched on our phones and even though our data plan may go over, it was so worth it. Just a great ending. Good sign that we ran the ball effectively. Still in shock.

  9. RB / Dec 9 2017

    and who made these brackets? Could NDSU have an easier path to Frisco? They will win there next two by 20+.

    Hope the hard road the Dukes are walking will serve them well against the Bison who are eating cupcakes on the way to TX.

  10. MJduke / Dec 9 2017

    There was A LOT of ugly in this game from JMU. Opening the game with (basically) a pick 6, penalties, 3 huge dropped passes, Mis-managing the clock before half, getting the field goal blocked, MORE PENALTIES, mental errors on defense, NOT RECOVERING THE FUMBLED KICK OFF TO WIN THE GAME, GETTING THE GO AHEAD SCORE CALLED BACK.

    We had plenty of chances to put the game away early but botched them. We put ourselves in the position where we only had once chance left and we managed to pull off the win.

    Everyone keeps saying hats off to Weber State but the reality of it is, they were simply the best team we have played and we made way too many mistakes. They werent that special. Not on the same level as NDST or SDST. Had we played a clean first half we would have gone into the locker room with a 3 score lead. Instead we had triple the amount of yards that they had and yet we were only up by 3.

    I cant really blame the Weber St’s big plays on the defense bc when the offense continues to squander possessions, leave points on the field, and turn the ball over deep in your own territory, its only a matter of time until holes start to open up. Football is a game of momentum. We could have taken it all away in the first half but instead we left them hanging around and they finally capitalized and got some momentum.

    We did not really deserve to win that one as poorly as we played. Watching SDST now and if we come out like that against them we will lose by 3 TDs.

  11. Ken / Dec 9 2017

    From the “It never fails department”:

    Had school obligations last night, so before I left home at 5:30, I set the DVR to begin recording at 6:55 and added an extra 30 minutes to the record time.

    Fired up the DVR about 11:30 p.m. and settled in to watch the game. The recording stopped at about 2:45 a.m. with the Dukes at the line and :26 remaining…

    Re-recorded the 5:30 a.m. airing on ESPNU. It will be edited to fit into the 3 hour block…

    Go Dukes!

  12. KevinRR / Dec 9 2017

    Have to agree with MJDuke, we need to play much cleaner against SDSU if were going to win this week. Also, did anyone else notice that TD squirrel showed up again during one of WSU’s touchdown plays?

  13. SOB / Dec 9 2017

    RB, of course you heard Weber’s fans when the Dukes has the ball? You expect us to drown them out when we’re on offense? That’s ignorant. The crowd was A+ last night, best crowd of the year. Students showed up, were loud, and stayed the whole game. Home side was passionate, standing, and screaming the whole game on defense. If your complaint is you heard the opposing team when we’re supposed to be quiet, I’d say that’s a job well done on our part. Hope you’re in the stands this week to help.

  14. OBXDuke1983 / Dec 10 2017

    Does anyone know the status of Miller? Any chance he will be ready for Saturday?

  15. Daddy Q / Dec 10 2017

    Your 10:10 tweet read my mind …

    What an ’emotional roller-coaster’ …

    The Season is NOT over!! GO DUUKKKEEEESSSSS !!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Chris / Dec 11 2017

    With SOB re: RB; but whatever… Let’s GO DUKES! I’m happy to say that I’ll be there this weekend and I got my stomping boots primed.

  17. DR / Dec 11 2017

    My wife and son weren’t able to come to the game at the last minute so I offered the 2 tickets to my parents. As we were walking into BFS my Dad reminded me that the last time he had been to a night game at JMU it was just as cold and then it hit me that he had joined me for the Montana game in ’08. I had been nervous about this game all week and I’ve become superstitious the last couple years (same hat, same shirt, same socks, playoff beard, etc…) and I immediately had a bad feeling. When Weber State went up 8 with 3 minutes left I turned to him and told him that I would never be bringing him to a playoff game again. After “the kick” he asked if he was allowed back. I laughed, but the answer is No. Never again. Definitely not this upcoming Saturday…

  18. Dukes4 / Dec 11 2017

    The only game I didn’t attend this season was Elon. Have to say our crowd was awesome / the best this season vs Weber. Even the usual numb fans were participating. The guy in front of me was actually tapping his ring on the railing……..BTW- the chant “Weber State” was weak at best. The fans around me remained confident until the end. Thanks to the committee, seems the best two FCS teams played on Friday night. (no disrespect to the fine fans at NDSU). Madison should be battle tested to go all the way.

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