By DUSTIN THOMAS
The University of Mary Washington might not have a collegiate football team, but that does not mean that our students do not take an interest in the sport. Collegiate football is the number one most-watched sport in the United States and our liberal arts institution is no different.
Most importantly, a few Virginia-based schools won some marquee matchups over the course of the weekend which began last Thursday, kicking off the new season. The University of Virginia Cavaliers started their season strong with a 28 to 10 victory over in-state foe, William & Mary. The Wahoos were lead by senior quarterback Kurt Benkert who went 27 for 39 with 262 yards passing and a trio of touchdowns. Behind Benkert, a stout defense and tailbacks Jordan Ellis and Daniel Hamm who combined for 123 yards on the ground, Bronco Mendenhall and his team have started the 2017 season on the right note.
On Saturday, the Liberty Flames traveled to Waco, Texas and stunned Baylor University in a 48 to 45 shootout. It has been reported that the Bears paid the Flames $600,000 to come to Waco to play on Saturday, and it is now looking to be something they will regret. Baylor, just a year and a half after the Art Briles scandal, has yet to get back on track. The Flames were lead by Stephen Calvert and Carrington Mosley who combined for 585 yards of offense and three touchdowns. This could be the start of a great season down in Lynchburg.
Virginia is home to the number one team in the country at the FCS level, James Madison University Dukes. It is common in the first week of the season for FCS schools to face FBS schools to kick off the season. The Dukes proved once again that they are the FCS team you do not want to have on your schedule. JMU is 2-1 against FBS teams in the past 3 years and hold the Division 1 longest game win streak at 13 games which dates back to their championship season last year. JMW went to Greenville, North Carolina on Saturday and took care of business against the Pirates of East Carolina University in 34 to 14 fashion. The Dukes, led by reigning FCS player of the year, senior quarterback Bryan Schor, combined for 614 yards of offense and 5 touchdowns. Most notably, senior running back Cardon Johnson rushed for 265 yards on 17 attempts and between him and Schor, JMU looks well on their way to defending their title.
The game that finished off the first weekend of college football took place on Sunday evening at FedEx Field between the #21 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies and #22 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. The game was a back and forth battle until tailback Tavon McMillian plunged into the endzone from three yards out with six minutes to spare in the fourth quarter. Freshman quarterback Josh Jackson made his debut and did not disappoint Hokie nation. Not only did the signal caller throw for 265 yards and a touchdown, he also led the team in rushing too with 117 yards and a score. This game was nationally televised, putting some eyes on the Hokies, and should make everyone aware in the ACC.
College football is something that is beloved in America and hopefully teams in our home state can give us something to cheer for this year.