Rascati throws 3 TDs in Dukes' 3rd straight road win

Updated: December 12, 2004, 11:41 AM ET
Associated Press

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Justin Rascati threw for three touchdowns and James Madison beat William & Mary 48-34 on Friday night in an NCAA Division I-AA semifinal game.

The Dukes (12-2) avenged a regular-season, last-play loss to the Tribe and advanced to next weekend's national championship against the winner of Saturday's other semifinal between Sam Houston State and Montana.

The Dukes, who won 14-13 at Lehigh in the first round and 14-13 at Furman to reach the semifinals, became the first I-AA team to reach the title game by winning three straight 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 and then turned the ball over twice after falling behind again.

The Dukes drove for scores after each turnover, mixing the running of Maurice Fenner with Rascati's passing to run time off the clock and prevent Campbell and the Tribe from another comeback in front of a sellout crowd of 12,259.

Fenner carried 22 times for 117 yards and Rascati, who transferred to the school in Harrisonburg for this season, finished 11-for-14 for 143 yards. He found Casime Harris for 19 yards, D.D. Boxley for 34 -- a 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 recovered for the Dukes, who took 11 plays to drive 48 yards and got a 4-yard TD run by Chris Iorio.

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 threw a scoring pass to Bolton.

Earlier, another big Tribe comeback was well under way.

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, capped by a 42-yard field goal by Kuehn that ended the half 21-20.

Campbell stretched his completion string to 17 in the second half, leading a 73-yard, seven-play drive. The last play was 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 -- for the Dukes to regain the lead. Then, their defense finished off the Tribe.

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

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

Campbell, one of three finalists for the Payton Award as the top offensive player in Division I-AA, finished 30-for-39 for 315 yards with three TD passes.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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