Week 8 CAA FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

Week 8 Colonial Athletic Association Game Breakdowns

There are two near-certainties in college football these days. It’s difficult to go undefeated, and if you’re a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, you better bring your A game every week. No. 8 Old Dominion (5-1, 2-1) learned that painful lesson on Saturday when the Monarchs were shocked on homecoming by Villanova 38-14. (Note to ODU athletic department: don’t ever make Villanova (5-2, 3-1) your homecoming opponent, not with an Andy Talley-coached team). The Monarchs jumped out to a quick 14-0 advantage before freshman quarterback John Robertson directed the comeback.

"Give a lot of credit to Andy Talley and Villanova. They had a great game plan. They were going to stick with the run game and they did. They kept the ball away from us. They ran 85 plays to our 58, which is very unusual,” ODU coach Bobby Wilder told reporters.  “It was really an unusual football game,” Wilder added. “I felt like in the first quarter we were dominating, up 14-3. I felt like we had complete control of the game. Then for the last three quarters we got outcoached and outplayed.”

Meanwhile, No. 2 James Madison (5-1, 3-0) survived a 27-26 double-overtime victory over hard-luck William & Mary (2-5, 1-3). Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock opted to go for a two-point conversion and try to win, but it failed. Although JMU remains the only league unbeaten, it still has contests with Richmond, Maine, Villanova and ODU remaining. But the focus now is on the ODU-Towson game Saturday night. Although both are in the top 20 nationally, the loser might find itself out of the playoffs at the end of November. A team needs seven FCS victories to qualify. Towson (3-3, 2-1), which lost to FBS teams Kent State and LSU, has to win four of its last five to get to seven wins. Its schedule reads: ODU, at Villanova, at Delaware, Rhode Island, at New Hampshire. Old Dominion’s remaining schedule reads: at Towson, Delaware, at Georgia State, William & Mary, at James Madison.

Last year’s contest between ODU and Towson was a classic as the Tigers erased an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter to stun the Monarchs 39-35. Towson recovered an onside kick and converted on a fourth-and-29 to steal the victory.

Here's a look at this week's games:


#8 OLD DOMINION at #16 TOWSON (7 p.m. Saturday at Unitas Stadium, Towson, Md.)

If you are in the Baltimore area and want to see FCS action at its best, take in this game Saturday night. As mentioned, this contest has all kinds of playoff implications, and both teams need it desperately. On Saturday, the Tigers held off a pesky Maine (2-4, 1-2) squad 24-19 when senior quarterback Grant Enders directed an 86-yard, seven-play drive that was capped off by a 52-yard touchdown run by Enders with 3:04 remaining. That gave the Tigers a 24-13 advantage, and they were able to hold on for the much-need victory. Enders finished 17-of-26 passing for 260 yards, and he had 98 yards rushing. Towson controlled the clock for 34:47 and rolled up 507 yards offense, but had trouble finishing drives. Meanwhile, ODU was upset by Villanova (5-2, 3-1) that no one saw coming (and if they did, they’re lying). In fact, the Monarchs jumped out to a quick advantage as Nick Mayers scored four plays into the game (eventually led 14-0) before Villanova scored 38 unanswered points. Villanova quarterback John Robertson led the upset as he rushed for 189 yards on 24 carries. Expect to see a lot of Towson running back Terrance West in this one. He rushed for 148 yards on 16 carries in last year's game. One way Villanova was able to defeat ODU was by controlling the clock – expect Towson to try to do the same.

Projected score: Towson 31, Old Dominion 27


#2 JAMES MADISON at RICHMOND (3:30 p.m. Saturday at Robbins Stadium, Richmond, Va.)

The Dukes, who trailed 14-0 in the first half, survived William & Mary’s upset bid when safety Jakarie Jackson batted away a two-point conversion attempt in the second OT. The Tribe could have tied the score with an extra point and sent the game into a third overtime, but Coach Jimmye Laycock decided to roll the dice on the two-point play. “Our defense had been out there a lot, and if we kicked the extra point, they would have had to go right back out there again,” he said. “We thought we had the play.” Quarterback Justin Thorpe led JMU with 110 yards on 21 carries. He also was 14-of-20 for 157 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Richmond (4-3, 2-2) rallied but fell short in a 44-40 loss to New Hampshire. The Spiders trailed 34-17 in the second half before mounting their comeback. They eventually took a 40-34 advantage, but they couldn’t hold off the Wildcats. Last year, in Harrisonburg, the Dukes prevailed 31-7. Not to take anything away from William & Mary, which is better than its 2-5 record, it’s likely JMU had a little bit of a letdown after its emotional victory the week before over Towson. Expect the Dukes to be sharper this weekend.

Projected score: James Madison 31, Richmond 16


#7 NEW HAMPSHIRE at MAINE (Noon Saturday at Alfond Stadium, Orono, Maine)

Don’t look now, but the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) are again in the CAA title and playoff hunts. They are a resilient bunch as they let a 17-point lead slip against Richmond on Saturday only to rally for victory. CAA rushing leader Nico Steriti produced his fourth 100-yard rushing game in five weeks by carrying 15 times for 122 yards. A homecoming crowd of more than 12,000 saw New Hampshire record its ninth straight home victory and improved to 21-1 in its last 22 contests at Cowell Stadium. Saturday’s game with the Black Bears (2-4, 1-2) will be the 100th all-time matchup in the series. The Wildcats, who won last year’s game 30-27, have won eight of the last nine meetings. After this weekend’s game, at least on paper, the Wildcats have the easiest schedule of anyone in the CAA as they finish this way: at Rhode Island, William & Mary, bye and home against Towson.

Projected score: New Hampshire 31, Maine 23


RHODE ISLAND at #24 DELAWARE (3:30 p.m. Saturday at Delaware Stadium, Newark, Del.)

The mood in Newark has improved dramatically without the Hens doing anything. Saturday’s bye, coupled with results around the CAA, have at least given Delaware (4-2, 1-2) the hope it can still have an impact in the conference. The Hens are coming off consecutive losses to New Hampshire and Maine, but given the Black Bears’ effort against Towson, the feeling is that maybe Maine is a better football team than many thought. And with Rhode Island (0-6, 0-3) coming to town, the Hens should get better in a hurry. The Hens are banged up, and quarterback Trent Hurley might not play because of a foot injury. Rhode Island bowed to previously winless Georgia State 41-7 on Saturday. The Hens still have a tough road with games against ODU, Towson, Richmond and Villanova, but they remain in the hunt – at least for now. The Rams upset Delaware last year in Kingston. It shouldn’t happen again.

Projected score: Delaware 42, Rhode Island 13


VILLANOVA at GEORGIA STATE (3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.)

The Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) are coming off a huge win in Norfolk as redshirt freshman quarterback John Robertson outdueled Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke. All Robertson did was rush for 189 yards and score three touchdowns. In addition, he had 151 passing yards with a touchdown. The Wildcats’ game plan worked to perfection as they held the ball 39:56 compared with ODU’s 20:04. “It’s a great win,” Villanova coach Andy Talley said. “We employed the game plan to perfection. We wanted to control the football and make them earn everything they got and that’s what we did.” Linebacker Devon Bridges, who was named College Sports Madness Defensive Player of the Week for the CAA, had eight tackles and a half-sack for the Wildcats. Meanwhile, Georgia State (1-6, 1-3) secured its first victory with a lopsided win over Rhode Island. Donald Russell, who was CSM’s Offensive Player of the Week for the CAA, set a Georgia State school record with 201 rushing yards and three TDs.

Projected score: Villanova 34, Georgia State 14


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns