By Ryan Divish
OK, this column is getting ridiculously out of hand. Just for the record, because my dad is worried you think my behavior is out of hand, I was on vacation and don't normally go out like that. OK, I do, but not quite at that level.
That being said, I am still not above imbibing a libation or two. Hey, it's a free country, I'm well over the legal limit, and if you don't like it, well, then you don't like it.
Anyway, when I last left you, the Griz were down 10-7 at halftime, but probably should have been up at least 14-7. Notice, I didn't say "could've," I said "should've," because the miscues that cost them points are plays that need to be made to win championships.
Anyway, since they don't let people leave the stadium at halftime, I actually watched the UM marching band perform for the first time in about seven years. Not bad, but I couldn't tell you one song they played.
At this point, I still wasn't worried in the least. The Griz were moving the football effectively, were playing decent defense and still seemed to have plenty of confidence.
I believed we would outscore them 24-14 in the second half for a 38-21 win.
9:58 p.m. - JMU gets the first possession of the second half. A quick note: The field has gone from bad to worse to horrible to pathetic to a complete joke. Players are ripping chunks of sod and tossing them out of the way as they line up. I haven't seen divots this big since my buddies decided to turn the Saturday round of the Beaver Blast golf tournament into a drinking contest.
9:59 p.m. - JMU is absolutely running the ball right over us. There is nothing fancy about it. No misdirection, no fakes or reverses. It's off tackle left, off tackle right, here it is, see if you can stop us. They are getting a minimum of seven yards before a Grizzly defender even makes first contact. Then after that, they drag them at least two or three yards. It is simply grind it out, beat you in the face football.
10:01 p.m. - JMU quarterback Justin Rascati scores on a nifty bootleg from about 14 yards out. All of that pounding, then a naked bootleg for a score. On the extra point, JMU's kicker hits the upright for the second time, and for the second time it bounces in. JMU 17, UM 7. What is this guy, the son of a preacher? Twice he hits the uprights, twice the kick is still good. He better head to Vegas after the game.
10:04 p.m. - I swear Craig Ochs has to be the coolest customer in a Griz uniform since the legendary Dave Dickenson. He systematically picking the JMU secondary apart. Down 10 points, Ochs is willing the Griz back into the game with a combination of scramble and pinpoint passing.
10:11 p.m. - TOUCHDOWN!! Ochs to Segers on the Grizzly screen for an 18-yard touchdown. It looks like a short gain, but two big blocks from Tate Hancock and Jon Talmage spring Segers free to scamper in. A Dan Carpenter extra point makes it JMU 17, UM 14. Do you feel it? Do you feel the Griz coming?
10:15 p.m. - First play of the JMU drive, Alvin Banks bobbles an option pitch and Nick Vella pounces on it to give the Griz back the ball. It's pandemonium in the stands. I just hugged two people I didn't know. One of them really needs to invest in some deodorant. The momentum is changing, the Griz nation is rocking and James Madison's sidelines are lost in bewilderment.
10:18 p.m. - TOUCHDOOOWWWWNNNN!!! Ochs finds tight end Willie Walden on a 9-yard scoring pass. It was a pretty little touch pass, but Walden makes the highlight stretching out his entire 6-7 frame to haul the pass in. Yep, a fumble, three plays and six points. Carpenter's extra point puts UM up 21-17. It is absolute insanity in the stands. Everyone is hugging, giving high fives and screaming like complete idiots. I passed on a hug with the stinky guy and opted for a college girl just below me. Yep, there was a slight difference in odors.
10:19 p.m. - JMU's first play of the next possession and it's loud in the stadium right now. Not loud, freakin' loud. I'm pretty sure I won't have a voice after this. How crazy is it? A lady at least in her 70s is screaming at the top of her lungs and waving noisemakers in both hands.
10:26 p.m. - You know how I said earlier that JMU was running over us. It's getting worse. They are running it right down our throats. UM's defensive line can't get a push of any sort; consequently their linebackers are avoiding their own players trying to make tackles. Not a good combination. Even when the Griz do get there early, they can't seem to bring the JMU runners down at the point of contact.
10:29 p.m. - Maurice Fenner punctuates the JMU drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Oh my God, they just ran the ball nine times and covered 78 yards for a TD. That's just straight, get-it-done, physical football. It was not good. JMU leads 24-21
10:35 p.m. - Ochs seems unfazed by JMU's score and is leading the Griz right back down the field, connecting with Jefferson Heidelberger to get the Griz first and 10 at the JMU 16-yard line. Here's where it gets a little strange. UM decides to run on first and second down for a total of about 2 yards, leaving them with a third-and-long situation. Again, not to second guess, but why run twice after using the pass to get yourself in that position? The Griz struggled running the football all game. Ochs is clearly the best player on the field. Why not let him make the plays? On third down, Ochs is under heavy pressure and forced to throw it away.
10:36 p.m. - Carpenter misses a 31-yard field goal attempt wide right. After missing so bad left, you almost knew he would overcompensate. Not to make excuses for him, but the field is making it impossible to convert anything more than a chip shot.
10:42 p.m. - It feels like the Griz defense has been on the field longer than we were in the bar last night. JMU has no reason to attempt a pass for the rest of the game. At this point, they could tell the Griz which way they are running the ball and still get yards. A quick note: JMU's much-lauded offensive line is doing a good job, but they are some of the cheapest, dirtiest players I've ever seen.
10:51 p.m. - UM gets a break as one of those offensive linemen finally gets caught for his thuggery when Kory Davis tosses Shane MacIntyre to the ground after the play is over. JMU was headed for the end zone. Instead it is first and goal from the 13-yard line.
10:53 p.m. - UM gets a big stop on first down, but on second down the play happens. Griz defensive tackle Kerry Mullan leaps at Rascati after an attempted pass. And as he passes by, Mullan inexplicably rams a his arm to the head of Rascati. The play is horrible and poor, but it's also stupid considering the referee is standing only yards away. As the flag is tossed into the air, I almost threw up in my mouth. My buddy Ryan looked at me stunned and said, "That is the worst play I've ever seen in football." Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Yeah, I know people make mistakes. But the play was cheap and it has no place on the field in any game.
10:54 p.m. - Instead of third and goal from the 13, it's second and goal from the six. And JMU gladly thanks Mullan for his kindness with another Rascati touchdown to go up 31-21. I am in a haze. The play by Mullan has me dumbfounded. Why? Why? Why?
10:55 p.m. - Why?
10:56 p.m. - Why?
10:57 p.m. - Why? Instead of JMU being up six, they are now up 10.
11:00 p.m. - Ochs tries valiantly to get the Griz back in it, but his desperation toss on fourth down is intercepted.
11:15 p.m. - JMU fans flood the field in celebration. I think I just threw up in my mouth again.
11:16 p.m. - God, I need a libation.
11:45 p.m. - Back at the Buck Wild and it's so surreal. Suddenly, the libations don't taste so good, the girls aren't quite so hot and I'm ready to come back to Havre. I never thought I'd type those words again. Ever.
11:46 p.m. - JMU fans are hardly celebrating. At least the ones that are there. If the Griz would've won it, bedlam would've ensued.
12:04 p.m. - This is totally depressing. Man, I am going to get made fun of back home. That's it. I'm done writing down my night. It's going to get ugly. "Excuse me, waitress, can I get another libation?"