HARRISONBURG, Va. — Kaedin Robinson’s toe barely touched the goal line before the football squirted out, scoring the winning touchdown in overtime as Appalachian State beat previously unbeaten and 18th-ranked James Madison 26-23 on Saturday.
James Madison jumped ahead in overtime when Camden Wise booted a 25-yard field goal, giving the Dukes a 23-20 lead. But on third down from the 8 yard line, Appalachian State’s Joey Aguilar tossed a strike to Robinson, who made the catch at the 5 and broke two tackles before stepping on the goal line for the winning TD, just before losing control of the ball.
The loss ended James Madison’s 10-game winning streak this season and 13-game run overall, and comes three days after the Dukes (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) had their appeal for a waiver that would allow them to be invited to a bowl game without extenuating circumstances denied by the NCAA. The Virginia Attorney General hired a law firm that is arguing for JMU’s inclusion in bowl consideration based on its record, national ranking and success in its two-year process reclassifying from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Subdivision, the game’s top tier.
Robinson finished with four catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Aguilar was 28 for 46 passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns with an interception for Appalachian State (7-4, 5-2).
Jordan McCloud was 27 of 46 passing for 276 yards with a TD and interception. Elijah Sarratt had eight catches — including two that helped force overtime — for 128 yards and a touchdown for James Madison.
Appalachian State was leading 3-0 after one quarter, and the Dukes added a field goal of their own early in the second.
James Madison added a safety midway through the second quarter after Aguilar was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.
The lead didn’t last long. McCloud fumbled two plays later to give possession back to Appalachian State in JMU territory. Aguilar completed a 27-yard pass to Eli Wilson, then to Robinson for eight yards and a touchdown to make it 10-5 at halftime.
Aguilar found Wilson for a 16-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
James Madison’s offense finally came alive. McCloud capped a 16-play 75-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run as the Dukes closed within 17-12 with 8:20 left.
Aguilar was clutch on the ensuing drive, moving the chains each time it appeared JMU was poised to get the ball back. The Mountaineers added another field goal with 3:55 remaining.
McCloud completed a pass to Sarratt on 4th-and-18 to keep JMU’s hopes alive and then the pair hooked up for a TD on the next play as JMU moved within two points with 0:57 left in the fourth McCloud hit Sarratt on a 2-point PAT that tied the score at 20.
The game had big implications in the Sun Belt East race, though it remains unclear. Appalachian State remained in the hunt for the division title if the Dukes can beat Coastal Carolina next week. That is, if JMU remains ineligible for the conference title.
However, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares intends to file a lawsuit against the NCAA next week and ask for an injunction that could make the Dukes postseason eligible. In that case, JMU could secure a spot in the championship game with another victory.
Appalachian State closes the regular season hosting Georgia Southern.