FCS Playoff Game Breakdown: Weber State at James Madison

Weber State at James Madison
Weber State looks like they were a victim of “prisoner of the moment” prognosticators when they hosted Montana. The Grizzlies had just gone berserk against Southeastern Louisiana, where the Wildcats had to struggle to beat Kennesaw State. Nobody gave the memo to defensive end Adam Rodriguez, who had four sacks in the quarterfinal. The Wildcats also picked off five Montana passes, two by George Tarlas, and only gave up 17 net yards rushing after sacks. Not only did the Wildcats win the turnover battle 5-0, they blocked a punt midway into the fourth quarter that was recovered for a touchdown. The offense had trouble moving the ball most of the night, 113 yards total. Jake Constantine hit Josh Davis with a swing pass out of the backfield for their first touchdown. A great deal of the first half was marred by tremendous snowfall, resulting in a punting contest.
Speaking of less than ideal weather conditions, James Madison hosted Northern Iowa in a constant drizzle with intermittent rain showers and sleet mixed with snowflakes. The field conditions never seemed to be compromised, so that was a plus. The conditions weren’t conducive to Northern Iowa success though when combined with James Madison’s defense. The Dukes completely shut down the Panthers’ running game, surrendering 0 net yards on 19 carries. That means after the 93 yards for a touchdown on the first play in the Second Round, the Dukes have given up exactly 0 yards on the next 36 rushing attempts. Ben DiNucci was pretty solid all game except for one interception thorn in the endzone. Brandon Polk was his main recipient. Backs Percy Agyei-Obese and Juwon Hamilton had 54 carries and 184 yards, with a touchdown by Agyei-Obese. The real stars of the game were the offensive line, who contributed to the Dukes holding the ball for over 42 minutes.
Defense ruled the day for both teams in the quarterfinals and if each defense shows up like they did in the coming 2017 playoff rematch, the first team to 10 might be the winner and there’s little doubt each will show up. But Weber State’s offense, for whatever reason, is not clicking right now. And a trip to Harrisonburg is a very bad place to be looking for it. The Dukes were mostly held in check by an elite defensive unit in UNI, but they had averaged 56 points per game in the four games prior.
Prediction: James Madison 20, Weber State 10