Photo courtesy of James Madison athletics

Any time an FCS team defeats a Power 5 team, it’s a big deal.

When an FCS team knocks off a ranked Power 5 team, that is something special. That’s what occurred on this day 10 years ago as James Madison went into Blacksburg and knocked off No. 13 Virginia Tech, 21-16.

Setting the Stage

Virginia Tech was coming off a heartbreaking loss to No. 3 Boise State in Landover to open the 2010 season. The Hokies were on a short week as they played their home opener against James Madison on Sept. 11, 2010.

The Hokies were coming off a 10-win season and top-10 finish in 2009. After starting the year ranked No. 10, they had fallen three spots as the Dukes came to Blacksburg.

James Madison was ranked No. 12 in the FCS Poll. The Dukes had finished 6-5 the year prior before opening 2010 with a 48-7 beatdown of Morehead State.

James Madison was 0-6 all-time against the Hokies. That day however, the Dukes left Blacksburg with more than a paycheck. They left with a victory.

The Contest

For most of the afternoon, it didn’t seem like Virginia Tech had anything to worry about. The Hokies led 16-7 midway through the third quarter, but settling for short Chris Hazley field goals would prove costly.

After tossing a 77-yard touchdown to Jamal Sullivan earlier in the game, James Madison quarterback Drew Dudzik made things interesting with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter. Dudzik scored from seven yards out to cap a 15-play drive and pull the Dukes to within two.

Just over a minute later, Jonathan Williams intercepted Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. After a Virginia Tech personal foul and a key third down conversion, James Madison began the final quarter in the red zone.

Facing 4th-and-3 from the Virginia Tech 12-yard-line with less than 14 minutes to play, Dudzik again used his legs. This time, he scored from 12 yards out to put the Dukes ahead for good.

The final two Virginia Tech drives would reach the red zone, but that is where they would end. An incomplete pass from Taylor with less than 10 minutes to play resulted in a turnover on downs.

With just over five minutes to play and the ball inside the James Madison 15, running back Darren Evans coughed the ball up and the Dukes recovered. James Madison was able to milk the final 5:23 off the clock. Virginia Tech was able to force a punt in the waning seconds, but a roughing the kicker called nullified that.

Virginia Tech finished with 372 yards to just 250 for James Madison. The three turnovers to none for the Dukes wound up being the difference.

In Hindsight

The win for James Madison remains a signature moment. The Dukes however, would go just 4-5 for the rest of 2010.

Virginia Tech was 0-2 for the first time in 25 years, but things would turn around. The Hokies rattled off 11 straight wins, which included a 44-33 victory over Florida State in the ACC Championship. Virginia Tech ultimately fell to Stanford in the Orange Bowl, 40-12.

The final regular season loss of 2010 was an unthinkable one for Virginia Tech. It happened on this day a decade ago.



Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.