Oct 9 / Rob

Guest Blogger: A Walk Down Memory Lane

JMU-VT 2M@ won our prediction contest last week and is this week’s guest blogger. Here’s a little walk down JMU football memory lane.

I did a post last season about some random thoughts I had on JMU football.  I found the experience quite enjoyable in all and so I decided to keep making guesses.  Low and behold my randomly selected score matched closely with reality and here I am again. This time I’ve decided to include a list of some of my most vivid memories of JMU football (I apologize for the number of losses).  Whenever possible I will provide a link (or links) to the game in question, but some of these are pretty old.  Now, without further ado, and in no particular order, my most memorable football moments:

W&M 27 – JMU 24 – 11/13/2004

Game notes. (Scroll down to ‘Earlier 2004 Meeting’).

What I remember: There are two plays that stand out from this game.  First, Rascati lost a fumble reaching for a first down on 3rd and 1 in the 3rd quarter.  21 yards later The Tribe took their first lead of the game (ok, I had to look up the distance, but I knew it was short).  He was stopped short, but he (as a Sophomore) seemed to forget the difference between reaching for a TD (where the play stops as soon as the ball crosses the goal line) and reaching for a first down (where play continues).  An alert William and Mary defender knocked the ball out of his hands and the ball was lost.

The second play I remember is the 46-yard field goal as time expired.  From where I was sitting I was almost even with the uprights, so I could see it had the distance, but had to wait for the signal to see if it went in between the uprights.  I’ve almost never heard such silence at Bridgeforth Stadium though I’m sure the green and gold fans were loud…I don’t remember it as shock had set in.

OK, one more thing I remember about this game: going down to Williamsburg less than a month later and winning 48-34 in the playoffs (while running the ball down their throats). The game wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest as W&M scored a TD in garbage time to pull within 14.

Buffalo 0 – JMU 30 – 9/3/1994

What I remember: I have to be honest with you.  I don’t remember this game at all.  But, this was the first game I came to at JMU as a pimply-faced Freshman, sitting at the 45 yard line.  What I do remember is the band.  I had been a UVa fan in high school (forgive me, I was young and impressionable).  I grew up watching the UVa Pep Band.  In 1994, JMU’s marching band had broken from tradition for a single season and the pregame show did not include Proud Mary…It started with Grand Old Flag by the Yankee Doodle Boy himself, George M Cohen.  They marched in in five straight lines, hit the goal line and turned back to do a march back through the band.  Unlike today, they also played to the student section for the pre-game show.  300+ members strong and they filled the stadium with sound.

Needless to say, it made quite the impression. This was also, technically, the first time I saw my future wife as she was somewhere in that mass of musicians, though we wouldn’t actually meet for another 3 months.

McNeese State 30 at JMU 24 – 9/16/1995

What I remember: I was a pimply-faced Sophomore sitting at the 45 yard line for the first half while my Dukes were playing a 1st ranked (maybe 3rd I don’t exactly remember) McNeese State.  The Cowboys were getting their collective asses handed to them by my Dukes.  By the half we were winning by a couple of touchdowns in one of the most miserable rain storm games I had ever been to (and few games have matched it since).  Before the half the student section, myself included, was chanting ‘overrated’ at the visitors.  At half time I went over to Section 10 to sit with my parents who had gotten season tickets so they could come up to see me.  McNeese State hung a few touchdowns on us and held us back for the comeback victory.  I haven’t noticed since that day, any student body chant ‘overrated’ at a visiting team…at least not in the first half.

JMU 21 – VA Tech 16 – 10/11/2010

What I remember: A few words have been written about this particular game and it is still mentioned on national TV once or twice a year.  But what I remember most is the rain and my desperate attempt to keep my cell phone functional through the game.  I had purchased tickets from a VT fan, so I sat in the upper deck somewhere around the 35 yard line.  After the first half, I turned to my friend (we were a dot of purple in a sea of maroon) and said “This can’t be right.” We weren’t winning, but we were still in it and that seemed wrong somehow.  After the third quarter I repeated myself “this can’t be right.”  After the game I would like to say I was more original, but I’m afraid I was still in disbelief “That can’t be right.”  I watched the game carefully, but other than a vague recollection of the introduction of the Pistol offense, Drew Dudzik running for two touchdowns and a critical fumble by Tyrod Taylor, I don’t remember much about the game itself.  What I do remember is all the JMU fans surrounding the band after the game and the band playing song after song until the security guards asked them to stop and leave.

JMU 24 – Liberty 10 – 9/26/2009

What I remember: The rain.  I remember almost nothing about the game other than being nervous (it was 10-10 in the fourth quarter).  I also remember sitting next to a couple of nice JMU fans at the game that I saw at Bridgeforth Stadium the next week.  Or more accurately they saw me (I can be hard to miss in that purple cowboy hat). Another set of fans were nice enough to give me and my friend a couple of ponchos after the 1st quarter (not that it helped much…we were already freezing and soaked).  My friend took his off in the fourth quarter and JMU came back.  It’s only silly if it doesn’t work.

But mostly, I remember the rain.

JMU 19 – Delaware 48 – 11/21/1995

What I remember: I drove up on a whim for my first away game ever in my “new” “red” (really orange) 1984 Honda Prelude (although I was a UVa fan in high school we never went to any away games).  The problem is that I was used to JMU football where you could just walk up at the last minute and get a ticket.  Delaware wasn’t like that.  I went up with two friends, one had walked on to the football team that year (but obviously didn’t travel with the team), but he had a ticket. The other guy and I did not.  The first half we listened to the radio in the car.  At halftime, since we were losing so badly, a couple of exiting UD fans gave my friend and me tickets.  We met up with the future football player in the stands and watched the second half.  We lost, badly.  After the game I sat and watched the band play (my friends had actually driven up in a separate car and left me there).  Several UD fans asked me about the band and I at least got to brag about one aspect of my school to the enemy (1994 Sudler Trophy Recipient after all).  After the game I gave a member of the band who was a friend (read: future wife who hadn’t yet succumbed to my charms) a ride home.

JMU 27 – App State 28 – 11/24/2007

What I remember: The final play.  This is the only game I have ever left early at any level (and that by only 11 seconds).  Jamal Sullivan, the first JMU player ever to score a touchdown against VT (since I started following JMU football), didn’t start out in my memory quite so well.  In FG range with time ticking down and the coaches call a dive to center the ball for a winning field goal attempt instead of just having Rodney Landers take the snap and kneel two yards to the left.  Sullivan fumbled and App State recovered…then went on for their 3rd national title.  I did take some solace in knowing we had played them closer than #5 FBS ranked Michigan who had lost to the Mountaineers 34-32 earlier in the season.

App State 32 – JMU 35 – 9/20/2008

What I remember: In my previous post I had included a YouTube video of Scotty McGee returning a last minute punt against Richmond for a Touchdown.  Obviously that moment belongs in this list, but I’ve already mentioned it.  Apparently App State didn’t get the memo: Don’t kick the ball to Scotty McGee…part 2.  Note that this occurred just 10 months after the disappointing loss I mentioned earlier.  The first half did not go our way.  At halftime we were losing 21-0 and I had completely lost hope.  Then App State made their first big mistake of the game.  They kicked the ball to Scotty McGee (you’d think teams would learn); 99 yards later and about 7 seconds into the second half the deficit was only 14 points.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Maine 10 – JMU 13 – 9/20/1997

What I remember: This is another game I barely remember, but the band made a big impression (that seems to happen a lot).  The Black Bears had brought their band to our stadium (usually a big no-no).  Our football team prevailed apparently, but after the game I stuck around to watch the post-game (remember, my future wife was in there somewhere).  The two bands took turns playing their shows.  Maine had fewer band members and no music program, but they were still pretty good…but not as good as the Marching Royal Dukes in my humble opinion.  This is the closest I’ve ever come to sending a ‘Dart’ in to the The Breeze: A Dart to everyone who left Saturday’s game before the bands’ post game shows…you missed one hell of an event.

Maine 25 – JMU 24 – 10/8/2011

Video

What I remember: The final play.

It takes some cojones to go for two in the first OT against a team with the speed and athleticism of JMU.  They converted and a silence more pronounced than that of the end of the 2004 W&M regular season game descended on the stadium.  The helicopter two-point conversion not only made the SportsCenter Top 10 for the week, it actually made the list for the best plays of the year.

The one I don’t remember anything else about

What I remember: I don’t remember the game and I don’t remember the score.  But this was a punt return, though not one by Scotty McGee.  This was by a little guy named Delvin Joyce.  I think he was with the team from 1997 – 2001.  He went on to play for the New York NFL Football Giants from 2002 through 2004.  The opposing team punted him the ball and he didn’t call fair catch despite the shortness of the punt and the hang time.  He caught it and the defender hit him in the face…but didn’t wrap up.  He bounced backward five yards or so, broke right and returned the punt for a touchdown.

———–

There are more memories I could share, but this is already longer than I wanted it to be.  I started writing with three ideas and those invariably lead me to others (that may be why there were so many catastrophic losses and rain-related memories).  So, please share your favorite, most bitter or just the strongest memory in the comments.  I’d love to hear them.

 

11 Comments

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  1. MRD2012 / Oct 9 2013

    Just a note: the half of the Band does face the student section for most of the pregame show.

  2. MRD2012 / Oct 9 2013

    another note: early in 2008 we were playing UMass, who was ranked 3rd nationally, an “overrated” chant was heard and late in the 4th quarter, “we want Appy” (with (cr)App St. on the schedule the next week.)

  3. 2004 Duke / Oct 9 2013

    A couple to add to your list:

    UMass 14 JMU 7- 10/26/02
    JMU fumbles a QB sneak on the 1 inch line to lose the game. Everyone rolls eyes as it is considered business as usual. JMU ends the season 5-7.

    Northeastern 41, JMU 24- 11/22/03
    In the last 5 minutes of the last game of the year, a BFS crowd of about 8,000 people chanted “FI-RE MICK-EY” in unison for a solid 10 minutes. JMU ends season 6-6.

    JMU 24 Maine 20- 10/16/04
    LC Baker (“The touchdown maker”.. copyright Mike Shickman) has a huge punt return with less than 2 minues to go, and DD Boxley catches a game-winning TD pass with 30 seconds remaining to win the game.

    JMU 20 Delaware 13- 11/6/13
    Cortez Thompson returns a punt for a TD with less than 2 minutes in the game, and the defense makes a goal-line stand as time expires to defeat the defending national champions. JMU football is officially on the map.

    JMU 14 Lehigh 13- 11/27/04
    Lehigh commits a personal foul on 3rd and goal to give JMU a fresh set of downs at the 5 yard line. Lehigh commits this error TWICE, leading to two JMU TD’s and an early playoff exit.

    JMU 14 Furman 13- 12/4/04
    “THE DRIVE”. (Seriously…how was this missing?) With 1:30 remaining in the game, JMU gets flagged for holding (you know who you are:) and backed up to their own 10 yard line. JMU then drives 90 yards in 80-some seconds, and scores on a toss play on 4th and goal with 4 seconds remaining. Furman’s season is over.

    JMU 31 Montana 21- 12/17/04
    Nothing important happened. The turf sucked. All the fans…montana’s included…were awesome. We won the national championship. No big deal.

    Coastal Carolina 31 JMU 27- 9/10/2005
    JMU drops an INT that hits the DB square in the chest with 4 minutes left in the game and chokes against a no-name team to set the tone for the year. JMU goes 7-4 and misses the playoffs.

    Youngstown 35 JMU 31- 11/25/06
    JMU blows a 31-20 4th quarter lead, including a game-ending fumble, to choke and end our season.

    JMU 38 Richmond 31- 10/11/08
    Richmond stupidly punts to Scotty McGee with 4 seconds left…. which is promptly returned 69 yards for a game-winning TD and ESPN’s #1 highlight of the week.

    JMU 23 Villanova 19- 10/25/08
    JMU completes a 40 yard hail mary with 0:00 remaining in the game to win in Villanova, PA.

    Montana 35 JMU 27- 12/12/08
    Rodney Landers gets injured in the 2nd half of the national semi-finals, JMU has no offense, and loses. This officially ended JMU’s era of dominance, and we haven’t been the same since. JMU goes 6-5 each of the next two seasons and misses the playoffs.

    ODU 23 JMU 20- 10/29/11
    JMU shuts down at halftime and blows a 20-14 halftime lead to lose to what may have been the most hated rival in JMU history.

    ODU 38 JMU 28- 11/17/12
    JMU…. once again….. blows a 21-10 halftime lead to lose to the most hated rival in JMU history. Again. As a result of the loss, JMU finishes 7-4 and misses the playoffs. Again.

  4. M@ / Oct 9 2013

    Thanks for sharing 2004Duke. I wasn’t personally at any of the 2004 playoff games (National Championship included). That’s why they weren’t included. I watched the W&M and National Championship games on TV, but that doesn’t give the same memorableness (I know that isn’t a word, but you know what I mean) as being there.

    Scotty’s return against Richmond probably should have been an individual entry in this post even though I had mentioned it in my last Guest Blog post.

  5. Drake / Oct 9 2013

    The App State game was one of the highlights of my college experience. I remember hearing boos at halftime and seeing people leave. My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I stuck it out only to be mesmerized by the comeback.

    The Liberty game was awesome because I’m from the Lynchburg area and I despise LU. My parents got Parents of the Year for coming along, sticking through the rain, and screaming right along with us. I remember the sidelines being flooded by the end.

    One game, that sticks out for me was the JMU-Wofford playoff game. The crowd seemed light because it was the weekend after Thanksgiving and not all the students had returned. We came back early, and got to see a thriller.

    On the upsetting note, the App state game with the fumble to end it. I was listening to it on the radio and almost threw up in my car.

    The 2008 year was filled with moments that rarely happen in the same season. The punt to Scotty to win it in the final seconds. The hailmary to end the Villanova game. Although the has been some lows, its also great to remember the amazing moments to realize how lucky we are as fans.

  6. Rob / Oct 9 2013

    The 04 game against UD with the Cortez Thompson punt return and the goal line stand was epic. And it was the first game I attended after moving back to VA from Atlanta.

    Like others have mentioned, the comeback against Appy (and the tailgating that preceded it) was amazing and so was the 04 playoff game against Furman. I personally think the 08 playoff game against Nova gets overlooked. It was a great game and one of my favorite examples or Rodney Landers putting the team on his back.

  7. frankthetank / Oct 9 2013

    The 2008 back to back home play-off games with temps well below freezing…good times. Only problem, it was warm for the griz.

  8. OldSkool / Oct 10 2013

    Most exciting JMU experience…even though we lost in OT, was 1994 – 2nd round playoff game vs Marshall…JMU had 428 yds of offense….249 of them passing!

  9. Cory / Oct 10 2013

    Best game by radio:
    JMU vs. Lehigh – 2004 – 14-13 (W) Mike Schikman will drive you crazy in a good way
    JMU vs. Richmond – 2009 – 17-21 (L) Thankfully missed the fumble at the end because we turned off the radio as the wedding started..
    JMU vs. Villanova – 2008 – 23-19 (W) the hail mary and Mike Schikman trying to kill me

    Best game by tv:
    JMU vs W&M – 2004 – 48-34 (W) In a bar, with W&M alums in silent awe of the rushing attack by JMU

    Best game as a spectator:
    JMU vs. Montana – 2004 – the National Championship, JMU vs. VT – 2010 – the improbably upset, JMU vs W&M – 2005 – FG to win it as payback AGAIN for 2004 atrocity at Bridgeforth

    Best game as player in a loss:
    JMU vs. VT – 1999 – 47-0 (L), being able to tell people I saw what Vick could do as a redshirt freshman and experiencing 60K plus people rain down boos.

    Best game as player in a win:
    JMU vs. Richmond – 1999 – 31-13 (W), fans storm the field as A10 championship is sealed against our rivals. Fans tear down goal post and deposit parts of it around campus including Newman Lake.

  10. Cory / Oct 10 2013

    I remember when Scotty got to the 30 I started screaming at him to get out of bounds to set up a FG. I checked the scoreboard to see the # of seconds remaining and when I turned around he was inside the 20 and about to score!

  11. M@ / Oct 11 2013

    That’s what you get for looking away Cory. 🙂

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