What a game! After getting knocked down by an early UNH 90-yard punt return touchdown, William and Mary would get back up and punch UNH in the mouth. The Tribe ended up with 470 total yards on offense, and the defense dominated, giving up just 12 points (6 coming from a punt return) the whole game.
Fun Fact: UNH has been ranked in the FCS Top 25 every single week since September 13, 2004. Yes, you read that right: 2004. To say that UNH has been one of the best teams in the CAA for over a decade would actually be an understatement. But after the Wildcats’ loss to the Tribe this weekend, UNH might not be ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in 11 years.
Game Summary: The Tribe did not start this game off on a good note. UNH took the opening kickoff into William and Mary territory. However, the Tribe defense came up big, notching a sack and forcing a three and out. The offense then followed with an underwhelming three and out, after which the ensuing W&M punt was taken 90 yards for a touchdown by UNH, who jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.
On the next drive, William and Mary marched down the field on a 9 play, 68-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard Steve Cluley touchdown run to paydirt. Cluley rolled out left looking for his tight end, Andrew Caskin, only to find Caskin covered. With only a few yards needed for the score, Cluley put his head down, Caskin blocked, and Cluley found paydirt. The first quarter ended with the score knotted 7-7. Early in the second quarter, UNH marched down the field and scored on a 37-yard run on 3rd and 1 to take the 15-7 lead following a successful 2-point conversion.
William and Mary would respond, and on the ensuing drive Kendell Anderson took an early handoff for a rumbling 69-yard touchdown, which marked his third touchdown of 60+ yards in as many weeks. The Tribe would end the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run by Anderson, his second TD of the game, to take a 21-15 lead into half.
Toward the end of the third quarter, UNH attempted a punt from their own 15 yard line. The snap was high, and the UNH punter lost the ball briefly before miraculously getting off a 2 yard punt. The punt was then caught and returned by DeAndre Houston-Carson to the UNH 10 yard line. Two plays later, Steve Cluley went untouched on another scamper into the end zone, putting William and Mary up 27-15.
On the next drive, UNH again attempted a punt. This time, instead of fumbling the snap, DeAndre Houston-Carson pulled off his second punt block of the year. The very first play from scrimmage following the blocked punt, the Tribe took a shot at the end zone. Cluley found Devonte Dedmon on a 30-yard strike, resulting in another score for the Tribe. This effectively put UNH away, as the Tribe then led 34-15. UNH would add on a field goal before the game was over, and the game would end 34-18.
The Good: William and Mary’s defense. The Green Swarm ended the game with a ridiculous 5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions. They kept UNH quarterback Sean Goldrich to just 154 yards, 2 interceptions, and 0 touchdowns. The defense was all over the field making plays, and had one of its best games of the season. Trey Reed made a leaping catch for an interception, Chris Donald finished with 1.5 sacks, and Peyton Gryder finished with 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss. William and Mary held the potent UNH offense to just 12 total points en rout to a 34-18 victory.
On the other side of the ball, the offense racked up an incredible 470 yards of offense, including an eye-popping 325 yards rushing on 49 attempts! Kendell Anderson remained on fire, gaining 174 yards on the ground and adding 2 touchdowns. Steve Cluley completed 64 percent of his passes with a touchdown and 0 interceptions; Cluley now has only 1 interception on the season, and it came in the first week against Lafayette.
As a side note, UNH’s quarterback Sean Goldrich is now 11-2 all time against CAA opponents. Both of his losses came at the hands of William and Mary in Zable Stadium. Coincidence? We like to think so. William and Mary is now 15-4 in the overall series against UNH, and it is fair to say that despite the Wildcats’ success over the past decade, the Tribe just seems to have their number.
The Bad: The Tribe’s special teams coverage in this game was subpar. As previously mentioned, the opening kickoff was returned into William and Mary’s territory, and the team gave up a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown. We saw this against UVA in the third week of the season, but didn’t think much of it. This week, UNH seemed to gain at least 30 yards every return; special teams will need to be worked on as the Tribe goes into the second half of its schedule.
On top of special teams, head coach Jimmye Laycock seems to be avoiding the use of Nick Dorka, and we don’t get it. William and Mary was attempting a 43 yard field goal in the first half, and after a penalty brought the field goal back to a 48 yarder, Coach Laycock sent the punt team out. Maybe he was just being conservative, but we know that Dorka has the leg to hit a 48 yarder at home. Additionally, the first drive of the second half saw the Tribe in UNH’s territory, and instead of kicking what should of been an easy field goal to put the Tribe up two scores, William and Mary went for it on 4th and 2 and failed to convert. Nick Dorka is 8/10 on field goals this year and remains one of the top kickers in the CAA; we hope he will be used more frequently than he has been lately.
Injuries: Wide receiver Daniel Kuzjak appeared to go down with an injury in the first quarter and did not return. Senior captain Luke Rhodes got injured in the 3rd quarter of the game in what appeared to be a knee injury. He limped off the field and was seen in crutches on the sidelines. We hope for the Tribe’s sake that these two will be returning soon. The Luke Rhodes injury is one of particular worry for the Tribe. He is the lone FCS player on the Butkus Award watch list, which is awarded to the best linebacker in the country. He is also a two-time All-CAA winner and two-year senior captain. This is currently a HUGE loss for the Tribe.
Around the CAA: Richmond and JMU rolled against the lowliest members of the CAA. Villanova shut out Albany, Maine lost to out of conference Yale, and Towson beat Stony Brook. The Stony Brook loss to Towson is a little bit of a shocker. Stony Brook was supposed to be a good team this year, but that no longer appears to be the case.
CAA Standings: JMU is so good this year that ESPN College Gameday is literally going to be in Harrisonburg next weekend for the Dukes’ Homecoming game against Richmond. Don’t believe us? Read about it here. Yeah, we can’t believe it either! But it’ll be awesome for the CAA, so we’re excited about it. William & Mary’s showdown against JMU on Halloween looms large, but let’s not look past Hampton this coming Saturday.
Look Ahead: William and Mary, now 4-2 coming off 2 straight wins over ranked opponents, will face Hampton on Homecoming weekend. However, if the Delaware game was any indication, Hampton should not be taken lightly. The Pirates have a former FBS quarterback in David Watford (formerly of UVA), and are a team that gave Richmond a run for their money earlier in the year, before falling to the Spiders 31-28. William and Mary will have to be at their best in this one, hopefully extending the Tribe’s winning streak to three games before playing JMU the following week. LET’S GO TRIBE.