Above: Photo courtesy JMU Athletics

FCS PLAYOFFS | Coaching change led JMU's Bryan Schor to verge of national championship

Bryan Schor wasn’t supposed to be here.

The junior quarterback is leading James Madison (13-1) into Saturday’s Football Championship Subdivision national championship game against Youngstown State (12-3) but his path originally had him headed to an FBS school.

In 2013 as a high school senior at Delaware Valley High School in Milford, Pa., Schor had a scholarship offer from Miami (Ohio). A coaching change, though, led to the offer being rescinded. Schor was cast adrift but wound up signing at James Madison in the spring of 2014.

“Things just have a way of working out,” Schor said. “I have no animosity toward Miami and I’m blessed to be at James Madison and have a chance to win a national championship.”

A 6-2, 215-pounder, Schor leads the FCS in completion percentage (73.7), pass efficiency (185.9) and yards per pass attempt (10.14). The Dukes are averaging 48 points a game with a balanced attack that averages 284 yards per game on the ground and 241 through the air.

"They can hurt you in a number of different ways," Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini said. “They do what we try to do in terms of having a balanced attack. Offensive teams that can do that are challenging to stop.”

James Madison senior running back Khalid Abdullah has rushed for 1.708 yards and his 20 touchdowns are tops in the FCS.

"We are a spread offense that has a very physical, downhill run game and a potent vertical and horizontal pass game," James Madison first-year coach Mike Houston said.

Schor, whose college destination was determined by a coaching change, spent his first two seasons at JMU playing for coach Everett Withers. When Houston was hired after Withers departed for Texas State, Schor found himself playing for a coach who runs an offense that was a perfect fit.

"Bryan is a guy that can do a lot of different things: he can run the ball, he can throw the ball," Houston said. "He's going to get everybody lined up and he's going to put the ball where it needs to go and he's not going to put the ball in jeopardy. So really, he's the perfect guy for this offense."

The Penguins have allowed just 10 rushing touchdowns and set a school single-season record for sacks with 47. Defensive ends Derek Rivers (14 sacks) and Avery Moss (10) have been giving offensive coordinators and quarterbacks nightmares this season.

“Those defensive ends really stand out when you watch the film,” said Schor, whose mobility might be a key factor in slowing the Youngstown State pass rush. “Hopefully my ability to move around will help our tackles a little bit and maybe slow down those defensive ends just a little.”

James Madison reached the national championship game by beating five-time defending national champion North Dakota State, 27-17, in Fargo on Dec. 16. Schor completed 11-of-18 for 242 yards in three touchdowns. The Dukes are now a victory away from winning the school’s second national championship; the first came in 2004.

“When I look back on what I had to go through to play football, there were some tough times,” Schor said. “I’m really thankful I had to go through those tough times. I love being at James Madison. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

Above: Photo courtesy JMU Athletics

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