App State’s Overtime Touchdown Ends James Madison’s Perfect Season
By Associated Press
HARRISONBURG, Va. – In a thrilling overtime showdown, Kaedin Robinson’s touchdown secured a stunning victory for Appalachian State, ending James Madison’s perfect season. The 18th-ranked Dukes suffered their first loss of the season with a final score of 26-23 on Saturday.
James Madison (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) took the lead in overtime when Camden Wise successfully kicked a 25-yard field goal, giving the Dukes a 23-20 advantage. However, on third down from the 8-yard line, Appalachian State’s Joey Aguilar delivered a precise pass to Robinson. Despite losing control of the ball after crossing the goal line, Robinson’s touchdown was confirmed after a video review.
The defeat marked the end of James Madison’s impressive 13-game winning streak, casting a shadow over what was supposed to be a celebratory day in Harrisonburg. JMU had the honor of hosting ESPN’s “College GameDay,” but the loss overshadowed the event.
Earlier in the week, James Madison’s appeal for a postseason waiver was denied by the NCAA. However, the Virginia attorney general has hired a law firm to argue for the Dukes’ inclusion in bowl consideration. The firm is emphasizing JMU’s record, national ranking, and successful transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Subdivision.
Despite the disappointment, James Madison (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) had hoped to secure a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl and compete for a Sun Belt title.
Robinson played a pivotal role in Appalachian State’s victory, finishing the game with four catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Aguilar’s impressive performance included 318 passing yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. The win keeps Appalachian State’s Sun Belt East hopes alive.
“This win against a ranked football team in James Madison is a significant achievement for our program,” said Appalachian State coach Shawn Clark. “We approached this game as the next challenge on our schedule, and it demonstrates that Boone, North Carolina, remains a force to be reckoned with.”
Clark also acknowledged James Madison’s formidable defense, which ranks first in yards rushing per game. Appalachian State’s strategy focused on protecting the quarterback and allowing Aguilar to make progressions. The quarterback and receivers executed their game plan flawlessly.
Jordan McCloud, James Madison’s quarterback, completed 27 of 46 passes for 276 yards, including a touchdown and an interception. Elijah Sarratt contributed significantly to the Dukes’ efforts with eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
JMU coach Curt Cignetti praised his team’s resilience in forcing overtime with sensational plays during the final drive. However, he acknowledged that Appalachian State outperformed them in overtime, executing their plays flawlessly.
Appalachian State built a commanding 20-5 lead in the second half, highlighted by Aguilar’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Eli Wilson on the first play of the fourth quarter.
James Madison’s offense finally found its rhythm, with McCloud leading a 16-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 6-yard touchdown run, narrowing the gap to 17-12 with 8:20 remaining.
Aguilar’s composure during the subsequent drive prevented JMU from regaining possession. The Mountaineers added another field goal with 3:55 left on the clock.
McCloud’s completion to Sarratt on a crucial 4th-and-18 play kept James Madison’s hopes alive. The duo then connected for a touchdown on the following play, bringing the Dukes within two points with just 0:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
McCloud and Sarratt’s successful 2-point conversion tied the score at 20, forcing the game into overtime.