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Johnson, defense help #3 James Madison avoid upset to #25 New Hampshire 23-21

Cole Johnson threw 3 touchdown passes and Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey intercepted a pass with 1:45 to play as James Madison, held off New Hampshire on Saturday.
Credit: JMU Athletics

DURHAM, N.H. — Cole Johnson threw three touchdown passes and Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey intercepted a pass with 1:45 to play as James Madison, the second-ranked FCS team, held off New Hampshire 23-21 on Saturday.

The Dukes (4-0, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) led 17-7 at halftime as Johnson hit Reggie Brown for a touchdown in the closing seconds. However Randall Harris picked of Johnson in the opening minutes of the third quarter and returned it 18 yards for the Wildcats (3-2, 2-1).

Then New Hampshire took the lead, 21-17, when Bret Edwards found Brian Espanet for an 8-yard score after the Dukes lost a fumble.

The James Madison defense took over from there and the Dukes finally put together a winning drive. Johnson’s second TD pass to Kris Thornton capped a 12-play, 77-yard drive for a 23-21 lead with 8:20 to go.

Johnson had 273 yards on 33-of-44 passing with Thornton catching 12 balls for 112. The Dukes had 432 yards of offense.

After their last touchdown, the Wildcats had three punts but still had a chance to win despite just 162 yards of offense before the interception near mid-field.