<
>

Landers, James Madison rally to beat Villanova

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Rodney Landers and James Madison beat Villanova again, and this time they didn't need a last play Hail Mary.

Landers threw for three touchdowns and ran for the go-ahead score with 1:38 to play Saturday as top-seeded James Madison rallied to beat Villanova 31-27 in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals.

The Dukes (12-1) trailed only once, after Matthew Szczur's 13-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Pimm out of the Wildcat formation with 6:54 left. But Landers drove James Madison 54 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and Marcus Haywood intercepted Chris Whitney to end Villanova's comeback hopes.

The Wildcats finished 10-3, and the Dukes advanced to play Montana, the team they beat to win the 2004 national championship, next weekend.

The game was a rematch of a regular-season contest won 23-19 by James Madison on Landers' 35-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass on the final play.

Landers was the hero again this time around, throwing for 157 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 143 more, including the winning touchdown.

Landers, one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the FCS, is the only one of the three still playing. Herb Donaldson and Western Illinois didn't make the playoffs, and Armanti Edwards and three-time defending champ Appalachian State lost 33-13 to Richmond on Saturday, giving the Colonial Athletic Association at least two of the final four teams. New Hampshire played Northern Iowa later.

Landers' touchdown passes covered 6 yards to Mike Caussin, 26 yards to Bosco Williams and 30 yards to Kerby Long, the last one giving the Dukes a 21-14 lead. Dave Stannard's 23-yard field goal made it 24-14.

Whitney brought them within a score with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Brandyn Harvey with 13:51 to play, but a missed extra point left it 24-20.

After Pimm's touchdown, an excessive celebration penalty forced Villanova to kick off from its 15, and JMU returned the ensuing kickoff to its 46. The Dukes converted a fourth-and-2, getting a 22-yard run by Griff Yancey, and a third-and-4 on the drive before Landers took it in.

Whitney was 13-for-20 for 213 yards for the Wildcats, and Szczur had a 2-yard touchdown run. Louis Adeyemi scored on a 1-yard run for Villanova.