James Madison’s undefeated season came to an end Saturday as Appalachian State’s Kaedin Robinson caught a TD pass from Joey Aguilar to give the Mountaineers a 26-23 win in overtime over the previously 10-0 Dukes.
Robinson’s third-down catch was oh-so-close to being a touchback and an incredible escape for James Madison. Robinson barely got the ball across the goal line before he fumbled and the ball bounced out of bounds.
App State gets a TD that's under review pic.twitter.com/DhpigkeeVO
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) November 18, 2023
James Madison’s first loss of the season comes just days after their last-ditch attempt at full postseason eligibility was denied and on the same day the school hosted ESPN’s “College GameDay” for the first time.
The Dukes never led in regulation and tied the game with less than a minute left after Elijah Sarratt caught a TD and then made an acrobatic catch on the game-tying 2-point conversion.
JMU got its first lead of the game in overtime when it kicked a field goal but couldn’t keep Appalachian State out of the end zone on its possession.
Even though it leads the Sun Belt’s East Division, James Madison is ineligible for the conference title game because it’s in its second season at the top level of college football. NCAA rules prohibit teams moving from the FCS level from playing in the postseason for their first two seasons at the FBS level.
JMU (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) tried multiple times to get a waiver and play in the postseason in 2023 but all of its attempts have failed. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares — a James Madison graduate — is even threatening legal action against the NCAA because the Dukes aren’t fully eligible for the postseason.
There is a decent chance, however, that James Madison will play in a bowl game. If there are not enough six-win teams to fill all 82 bowl spots, James Madison and Jacksonville State are the first alternates to fill any remaining bowl slots before any 5-7 teams.
The win also gives Appalachian State a shot at winning the East with James Madison ineligible. The Mountaineers can win the division and face Troy in the conference title game with a win over Georgia Southern and a Coastal Carolina loss to the Dukes in Week 13.