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James Madison assistant coach knows Fargodome noise

HARRISONBURG, Va.-Bob Trott has applause behind him and a familiar clamor ahead.Trott, a first-year defensive coordinator for the James Madison football team, put together the plan that helped his defense shine in its two FCS playoff games. The D...

Bob Trott, the defensive coordinator for the James Madison football team that will play North Dakota State in the Fargodome Friday, Dec. 16, was an assistant coach for a Richmond team that played in the Fargodome last season. Richmond Times-Dispatch photo
Bob Trott, the defensive coordinator for the James Madison football team that will play North Dakota State in the Fargodome Friday, Dec. 16, was an assistant coach for a Richmond team that played in the Fargodome last season. Richmond Times-Dispatch photo
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HARRISONBURG, Va.-Bob Trott has applause behind him and a familiar clamor ahead.

Trott, a first-year defensive coordinator for the James Madison football team, put together the plan that helped his defense shine in its two FCS playoff games. The Dukes (12-1), who earned a first-round bye as the tournament's fourth seed, knocked out New Hampshire 55-22 in the second round on Dec. 3.

New Hampshire had only one sustained scoring drive. The Wildcats picked up an early touchdown after a James Madison turnover gave them the ball at Madison's 16, and then scored their last touchdown with 20 seconds left, when reserves were on the field for both teams.

That was followed by James Madison's 65-7 quarterfinal win over fifth-seeded Sam Houston, which came to Harrisonburg with the FCS' top scoring offense (53.1 ppg). The Bearkats scored their touchdown in the fourth quarter, when it was 65-0.

"Defensively, I thought that is about as impressive a performance as I've seen in a long time," said Dukes coach Mike Houston.

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Now, James Madison heads into one of the most intimidating environments in the FCS: North Dakota State's Fargodome, a 19,000-seat sound cavern where the five-time-defending-champion Bison have won 22 consecutive playoff games since 2011.

Trott was Richmond's defensive coordinator last season, when the Spiders lost 33-7 at the Fargodome in the semifinals.

"Great college football atmosphere. The fans were great and love college football," said Trott. "It is loud and it forces you to deal with it."

NDSU (12-1), the playoff's top seed, is 55-5 at the Fargodome since 2010. Opponents typically struggle with the noise, especially while on offense. Fans are much closer to the playing surface than at outdoor facilities and save their highest volume for when opponents are trying to snap the ball.

Houston said that because of Trott's visit to the Fargodome with Richmond a year ago, "he has experience with everything as far as communication, as far as play on the field. A lot of the things he learned last year will certainly be valuable to us."

This semifinal brings together the FCS' top scoring team, James Madison (49.6 ppg), and an NDSU defense that ranks third in scoring defense (15.8 ppg). James Madison's defense allowed 28.8 points per game against its first eight scholarship-awarding opponents and 12.5 ppg in its last four games.

The winner will face the winner of the Youngstown State at Eastern Washington semifinal. The FCS championship will be played Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.

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