- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 11, 2004

WILLIAMSBURG — Justin Rascati threw for three touchdowns and James Madison turned four turnovers into touchdowns last night and beat William & Mary 48-34 in the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals.

The Dukes (12-2) avenged a last-play regular season loss to the Tribe and moved on to next weekend’s national championship in Chattanooga, Tenn., against either Sam Houston State or Montana, who play today.

The Dukes, who won 14-13 at Lehigh in the first round and 14-13 at Furman to get to the semifinals, became the first team in I-AA to make it to the championship game by winning three consecutive road games.

William & Mary (11-3), which rallied from a 31-10 deficit to beat defending national champion Delaware in double overtime last weekend, fell behind 21-0, rode the passing of Lang Campbell to a 26-20 third-quarter lead, then turned the ball over twice after falling behind again.

Each time, the Dukes drove for scores, mixing the running of Maurice Fenner with Rascati’s passing to eat clock time and prevent Campbell and the Tribe from another miracle comeback before a sellout crowd of 12,259.

Fenner carried 22 times for 117 yards, and Rascati, who transferred from Louisville to the school in Harrisonburg for this season, finished 11-for-14 for 143 yards. He hit Casime Harris for 19 yards, D.D. Boxley for 34 — a gorgeous, diving fingertip grab — and Antoinne Bolton for 13 to make it 41-26.

Trailing 27-26, William & Mary had just made a first down when Jon Smith fumbled at his 45, Bruce Johnson recovering for the Dukes. They took 11 plays to drive 48 yards to Chris Iorio’s 4-yard touchdown run.

On the Tribe’s next play, Brandon Beach hit Campbell from behind, forcing another fumble, and Demetrius Shambley recovered for James Madison at the Tribe 18. Three plays later, Rascati hit Bolton for the points.

Earlier, another big Tribe comeback was well underway.

After seeing his fifth interception of the season returned 69 yards for a touchdown to give the Dukes a 21-0 lead after less than 11 minutes, Campbell completed 14 consecutive passes to end the first half. He led four straight scoring drives that pulled the Tribe to 21-20 at the break.

Greg Kuehn kicked a 27-yard field goal, Campbell ran 2 yards for one score, hit Joe Nicholas from 9 yards out for another and led a 30-yard, 40-second drive to Kuehn’s 42-yard field goal to end the half 21-20.

Campbell stretched his completion string to 17 in the second half, leading a 73-yard drive in seven plays, the last a 7-yard scoring pass to Dominique Thompson that gave William & Mary a short-lived 26-21 lead.

It took the Dukes just two plays — a 29-yard run by Fenner and Rascati’s perfectly thrown pass to a diving Boxley — to give the Dukes the lead back, and then their defense made sure to finish the Tribe.

In the regular season, James Madison tied the visiting Tribe with 45 seconds left, but Campbell completed four consecutive passes and Kuehn kicked a 46-yard field goal on the final play in a 27-24 William & Mary victory.

Last night’s rare sellout crowd at Zable Stadium cheered crazily as the game started, but the Dukes immediately took a little steam out of the throng.

James Madison drove 73 yards in just six plays with the opening drive, Raymond Hines finishing with a 27-yard burst up the middle for a touchdown after just 2:28. Hines ran for 196 yards in the teams’ first meeting.

The teams then exchanged punts, but William & Mary’s Jonathan Shaw let the ball bounce off his chest at his own 25 and Isai Bradshaw recovered for the Dukes. Three plays later, Rascati found Harris in the end zone.

The Dukes weren’t finished, as Clint Kent intercepted Campbell at the James Madison 31 on the next series, started up field to the right, cut left and raced down the sidelines, a 69-yard return to make it 21-0.

Campbell, one of three finalists for the Payton Award as the top offensive player in Division I-AA, was 3-for-8 after the interception, then got hot. He finished 30-for-39 for 315 yards with three TD passes.

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