Cox grad Cole Johnson wins Offensive Player of the Year in the CAA

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James Madison quarterback Cole Johnson (12) looks for an open receiver under pressure from the North Dakota defense during the first half of a quarterfinal game in the NCAA FCS football playoffs in Harrisonburg, Va., Sunday, May 2, 2021. (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Cox High School alum Cole Johnson was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Offensive Player of the Year after a record breaking season under center for James Madison football.

The Dukes’ quarterback, who’s in the running for the Walter Payton Award, led the CAA in passing yards per game (268.5), passing touchdowns (32), completion percentage (68.1%), total offense (285.18) and pass efficiency rating (170.37).

He had just two interceptions compared to those 32 passing touchdowns, going 233-of-342 for 2,953 passing yards. He also had a team-high five touchdowns on the ground, running for 184 yards.

The 32 passing touchdowns this season set the JMU single-season record. Johnson also set a school record with six touchdown passes in a 45-21 win over Elon, and he tied that this past week in a 56-10 beatdown of Towson at home, going 21-of-25 for 363 yards.

And it all came after Johnson, a sixth-year senior, spent years in the backup quarterback role for JMU. He was also briefly benched after a slow start in the unprecedented spring 2021 season, but found his groove and got the Dukes to the FCS semifinals.

JMU kicker Ethan Ratke was also named CAA Special Teams Player of the Year after breaking the NCAA all-division record for career field goals (100) and for scoring by a kicker (525).

Several other JMU players were also named All-CAA, including linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey from Norfolk.

The Dukes, who are moving to the FBS and the Sun Belt Conference, are the No. 3 seed in their last ever FCS playoffs. They’ll face the winner of Southeastern Louisiana and Florida A&M on Saturday Dec. 4 in the second round.

Read about the all-conference honors here.

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