HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Brian McCarty, a redshirt freshman tailback, provided some sunshine for Towson State on an otherwise bleak afternoon.
A brief shower blew through before the kickoff, but the sun was out by the time James Madison scored its first touchdown, and the Dukes went on to blow through the Tigers for a 55-31 victory before 8,102 at Bridgeforth Stadium yesterday.
Two juniors did most of the offensive damage for James Madison, which set a school record for points scored against an NCAA Division I-AA opponent. Quarterback Eriq Williams and tailback Kenny Sims, who set a school record with his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game, each ran for two touchdowns.
The Tigers have given up 45, 54 and 55 points in their last three games after restricting their first two opponents to 10 and 13 points.
The game was a reflection of the teams' records. The triumph was the fifth straight for James Madison (5-1), ranked No. 11 in I-AA. Towson State is 0-5.
McCarty, 6 feet, 190 pounds, made his first collegiate start an impressive one, rushing 18 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns. It was the best single-game rushing effort by a Towson State back since David Meggett ran for a school-record 221 yards against New Haven in 1988.
McCarty, who had rushed for 196 yards in 43 attempts through four games, drew the starting call when he was moved ahead of senior Robbie Jackson, last season's leading rusher who has been hampered this season by a hamstring pull.
"Brian's been consistently producing north-south runs, while Robbie is more of a slashing sprinter type," Towson State coach Phil Albert said.
"I thought we had a good game plan -- to control the ball -- but when you fall behind so quickly [14-0 after 11 minutes], it makes the overall plan look poor. Madison has no weaknesses on offense or defense, and good teams have a way of making you look bad."
Madison's first-year coach, Rip Scherer, stated the obvious when he said, "We mixed the run with the pass well and did a better job with our fullbacks going inside.
"Our offensive line is getting better, and the fact we were able to move the ball inside and outside in our option game really gives us the tools."
James Madison turned this one into a rout in the first half, taking advantage of open receivers and shoddy tackling to open a 21-0 lead in the first 16 minutes, and ballooning it to 34-7 by halftime.
James Madison capitalized on breaks to score its first two touchdowns.
On the Dukes' opening series, David McLeod, their leading receiver, pushed away defender Dustin Harper to make a reception on a 25-yard pass, and, when Harper went down, McLeod ran 8 yards more before being stopped at the Towson State 12.
Off a fake by Williams, tailback Sims legged it to the corner of the end zone from the 4.
Towson forced a punt on Madison's next possession, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave the Dukes a fourth-and-one, and Sims jumped over the middle of the line for 4 yards. Four plays later, Joe Sparksman charged through the middle for the last 6 yards.