Mountaineers welcome Dukes in their Sun Belt Conference debut


Mayes Ivy Carlson

Redshirt senior quarterback Chase Brice rolls out in App State’s 32-28 victory over Troy Sept. 17, 2022.

Jack Jackson, Reporter

App State football prepares for another tough Sun Belt battle, hosting James Madison Saturday in Kidd Brewer Stadium. 

After squeaking past Troy with a last second Hail Mary, the Black and Gold look ahead to their Black Saturday matchup against James Madison. The Mountaineers have had some tough battles with the Dukes in the past, a team that enters week four coming off a bye week. 

The most noticeable matchup came in 2007, when a forced fumble with only 22 seconds left led the Mountaineers to shock the Dukes 28-27 in Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Dukes got their revenge the following season with a 21-point second half comeback to win 35-32. Since that matchup in 2008, the Dukes and Mountaineers haven’t faced each other in 14 years. 

“James Madison is a really good football team,” head coach Shawn Clark said. “I know it’s going to be another tough game.” 

James Madison has dominated their last two opponents, outscoring Middle Tennessee State and Norfolk State 107-14. 

The Dukes rank first among Sun Belt teams in overall efficiency with 87.4%, landing themselves 12th in the nation according to ESPN. With an offense ranked 28th in the nation with a 74.7% efficiency and a defense ranked fifth in the nation with a 90.9% efficiency, the Mountaineers will be tested on both sides of the ball. Alongside the high efficiency production from the Dukes, they come into the game well rested. 

James Madison’s efficient offense is led by dual-threat quarterback Todd Centeio. Despite only starting the previous two seasons, Centeio leads by example. In two games, Centeio has 33 completions on 50 attempts for a 66% completion rate, alongside 452 passing yards, nine touchdowns and zero interceptions through two games. Centeio also accumulated 139 yards rushing on 18 carries so far this season. Alongside Centeio, Kris Thornton, a redshirt senior wide receiver, is Centeio’s favorite target. With 18 receptions, 247 yards, 13.7 yards per reception and five receiving touchdowns, Thornton will be the one to watch when the Dukes’ are driving. 

Defensively, James Madison is led by sophomore outside linebacker Taurus Jones. Through two games, Jones has claimed 11 tackles and two and a half yards lost, alongside a forced fumble and fumble recovery with one yard gained. Led by Jones, the Dukes have given up 331 yards, an average of 165.5 per game, with 310 passing yards and 21 rushing yards allowed, leading the country in rush defense. The Dukes’ 14 allowed points ranks fewest in the country through two games. 

“We’ve got to get some rest this weekend,” Clark said. “We have our work cut out for us.” 

The highly anticipated showdown between James Madison and App State will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. in Kidd Brewer Stadium. Tickets for this matchup are currently available for a minimum of $97, according to SeatGeek. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.