HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — Todd Centeio threw for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth and James Madison romped past No. 23 Coastal Carolina 47-7 on Saturday in what it viewed as its postseason game.
JMU (8-3, 6-2 Sun Belt) earned a technical share of the league’s East Division title with the same conference record as the Chanticleers, but the Dukes are not eligible for a title under terms of their transition to the Bowl Subdivision.
Forgive Dukes coach Curt Cignetti if he feels otherwise.
“You know, we’re champions. Everybody knows we’re champions of the East. I mean, come on. Across the country. You know, this was a major statement across the country,” he said. “This was an exclamation point.”
When the game ended, Queen’s “We Are the Champions” blared through the stadium.
“Everyone knows who JMU is now,” said wide receiver Kris Thornton, who became the first in school history to go over 1,000 yards receiving twice. “We won the East.”
The Chanticleers (9-2, 6-2) were the first visitor in the AP Top 25 to ever play at Bridgeforth Stadium, but they did so without starting quarterback Grayson McCall. Their only score came on their second drive on Jarrett Guest’s 34-yard pass to Tyson Mobley.
“We lost badly mentally because we let the game get bigger than what it was supposed to be,” nose tackle Jerrod Clark said.
James Madison trailed 7-6 before Centeio hit a wide open Reggie Brown for a 34-yard TD on its second drive of the second quarter to put the Dukes ahead. He then hit Devin Ravenel in the back of the end zone from 26 yards on the next drive. On the play, Ravenel made a dazzling catch over the top of the defender in very tight coverage.
A 17-yard strike to Drew Painter just over two minutes into the third quarter and Latrele Palmer’s 13-yard run made it 33-7 midway through the quarter, and an 8-yard pass to Ravenel with 16 seconds left in the quarter gave Centeio his fourth game with at least four touchdown passes this season. He added an 11-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Coastal Carolina: The Chants, with McCall, were the only team in the Group of Five with one loss, but they are a different team without him. They gained 75 yards on their touchdown drive and only 109 the rest of the game.
“We can’t let this game roll over into the championship game,” Clark said.
James Madison: The Dukes clearly viewed this as their bowl game because of the rules that prevent them from either winning the title or playing in a bowl given their transition from the Championship Series. They won the FCS national title in 2016 and appeared in two more championship games before moving up to the FBS this season.
Coastal’s stay in the AP Top 25, like James Madison’s earlier, will last only one game. The Chants were ranked last week, when their game against Virginia was canceled.
The Chanticleers will face either Troy or South Alabama for the league championship next Saturday.
The Dukes’ season is over because of their FBS transition.
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