SV grad Brown national champ with JM football
Started at safety for FCS title team
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Eagle Staff Writer
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January 11, 2017
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Jordan Brown
HARRISONBURG, Va. — James Madison University’s football players, coaches and fans came together as one to celebrate the program’s second national title.
The spectacle created a sea of purple and gold on the field at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, and a Seneca Valley High School graduate was right in the middle of it.
Jordan Brown, a redshirt junior for the Dukes (14-1), started at strong safety and led the team’s defense with seven tackles in a 28-14 victory over Youngstown State Saturday in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) title game.
“The clock hit zeroes and our fans rushed the field,” said Brown. “I got lost in the crowd. To be there with my brothers, my teammates, it was a surreal feeling. It was breathtaking.”
JMU’s defense stifled Youngstown’s offensive attack, holding the Penguins to a minuscule 21 yards rushing on 31 attempts.
“Stopping the run was our number one goal,” said Brown. “Our coaches told us that as long as we did that, the game was in our hands.”
Brown’s play at safety also contributed to the defense’s five sacks of YSU quarterback Hunter Wells.
Winning it all was a goal Brown and the Dukes had since the start of the season, despite playing for a new coach in Mike Houston.
“I started at cornerback last season and figured that’s where I would be playing this year,” Brown said. “But after the new staff came in, they switched me to safety.”
And he learned it well. Brown ended up third on the team with 92 tackles. He added two interceptions, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and one sack.
“Stats are stats and they don’t mean much,” he said. “What matters is the ring that we’ll be wearing.”
Brown helped the Dukes reach the NCAA playoffs in 2015, but they dropped their first postseason game to Colgate, 44-38.
“We were a good team last year, but we were much more physical this season,” said Brown.
The improved defense helped the team win the Colonial Athletic Association title with an undefeated 8-0 record. In fact, the Dukes’ lone defeat during a 10-1 regular season came in September against the University of North Carolina, a Division I-A program.
JMU opened the playoffs with lopsided wins over New Hampshire (55-22) and Sam Houston State (65-7). That earned the Dukes a trip to the semifinals in Fargo, N.D., where five-time defending national champion North Dakota State was waiting.
On paper, the Dukes were the underdogs.
“After watching film on them, we knew it was our game,” said Brown. “The game was played indoors (at Gate City Bank Field). It was so loud. I’ve never been in a place that loud before, but we were ready for it.”
The Dukes prevailed, 27-17, but did not spend much time thinking about the accomplishment. After all, there was still one game left to play.
“Our coaches told us all year, “Don’t drink the juice,’” said Brown. “During the (regular) season, we did really well and then we get into the playoffs and people were coming up to us saying how great we were. We just had to keep our heads down and grind, put the practice time in and in the workouts. We had two-a-days from Dec. 27 to Jan. 4.”