HAPPY HOMECOMING, TRIBE FAITHFUL! William and Mary coasted to a 40-7 rout against the Hampton Pirates in front of a sold out Zable Stadium. For the students who waited in a line extending past the Sadler Center to get into the game, it was well worth the patience. For alumni traveling from all across the country and across the world, it was also worth it. In the end, it’s safe to say that this year’s festive homecoming weekend was made even better by a dominant performance on the gridiron.
Game Summary: As students were still pouring into Zable Stadium, the Tribe got on the board early. After William and Mary forced a quick three-and-out from the Pirates, kicker Nick Dorka ended the Tribe’s first drive by hitting a tough 48-yard field goal. The Tribe defense came up big on the next drive, stuffing Hampton on a fourth down conversion attempt. After Dorka did his thing, the defense promptly picked off Hampton quarterback David Watford, as Matt Ahola came down with the pick.
Later in the half, Tribe running back Kendell Anderson took over. Anderson and fellow running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor both scored in the second quarter, giving the Tribe a commanding 30-0 lead at the half. Anderson would have had another, but he inadvertently dropped the ball in a premature celebration inside the two yard line, giving the ball back to Hampton on the play. It was a spectacularly long run, nullified by a huge mistake.
The turnover could have been very bad for the Tribe, but thankfully, at this point, the game was already a blowout. Anderson would lose several snaps to Abdul-Saboor for the rest of the half following the fumble. And luckily for Anderson, Tribe safety DeAndre Houston-Carson picked off Watford on the very next drive, giving W&M the ball back in favorable field position.
In the third quarter, the Tribe finally gave up its first points of the game, as Watford connected on a 48-yard TD pass to his favorite wide receiver, Twan Mixson. However, the Tribe would tack on ten more points, and leave the field as 40-7 victors.
The Good: Tribe QB Steve Cluley finished the game strong after a somewhat slow start. Cluley finished with 244 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. Cluley also notched a 14-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter; he played the game manager role well in this one, as the ground game was able to eat the Hampton defense alive.
Running backs Kendell Anderson and Mikal Abdul-Saboor combined for 238 rushing yards and two touchdowns–Anderson with 191 yds, 1 TD and Abdul-Saboor with 47 yds, 1 TD. Kendell was his normal, electric self, and Abdul-Saboor continued to plug away. Abdul-Saboor, probably still recovering from his early-season injury, has given way to Anderson, who has continued to shock and awe this year. Anderson leads the entire CAA in rushing, averaging 128 rushing yards a game.
On the defensive side of the ball, W&M nearly pitched a shutout. Against a fairly decent quarterback in David Watford, and without linebacker Luke Rhodes, the Tribe defense held the Pirates to a mere 150 total yard of offense. En route to victory, W&M garnered two interceptions, 3 sacks, and held Hampton to just a 16.6% third down conversion rate. The defense was led by the strong play of both Marcus Harvey (5 tackles, 1 sack) and DeAndre Houston-Carson (4 tackles, 1 INT). W&M’s defense leads the CAA in scoring, as opponents average just 15.3 points per game.
The Bad: As mentioned earlier, the Kendell Anderson gaffe at the goal line leaves us scratching our heads. How could a player that good do something that bad? Thankfully, the game was a blow out at that point. We know that Kendell will learn from this experience, and it will make him a better player in the future. He’s still a beast.
Another negative was the Tribe’s slow start to begin the game. As the W&M defense repeatedly stopped Hampton and set the offense up with great field position, the offense stalled. This resulted in three straight field goal conversions by Nick Dorka. While Dorka is a great kicker, the offense really needed to get into the end zone early in the game. Another slow start next week could result in an early-game deficit against the up-tempo, high-octane JMU offensive unit.
Injuries: As most know by now, the Tribe’s top linebacker Luke Rhodes sustained an injury last week. Rhodes missed the game va. Hampton, and there is no exact timetable for his return. He was however seen in a knee brace walking around the sideline the entire game.
The Tribe also sustained three more injuries in this week’s game: wide receiver Kevin Hart, wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon, and center Andrew Jones. All players left the game with injury and did not return. We hope that these are nothing too serious, and that these players can return to the field sooner rather than later.
Around the CAA: After hosting ESPN College Game Day in front of an estimated 12,000 attendees, JMU fell to the Richmond Spiders in an absolute shoot out. Over 100 points were put on the board, all occurring in regulation time. Perhaps even worse than the loss itself is the fact that JMU quarterback Vad Lee sustained a potentially season-ending ankle injury. This is good news for the Tribe next week, as the team will take on JMU at home, but we can’t help but feel terrible for JMU fans everywhere. Additionally, UNH lost to Delaware and Villanova lost to Towson. My oh my, how the tables have turned in this year’s CAA.
Standings: With JMU’s shocking loss to Richmond, the Spiders remain undefeated in CAA play, and sit at 6-1 overall. Richmond, JMU, and William & Mary continue to shine as the top contenders in this year’s CAA. Is it a coincidence that the three best teams in the CAA are all from the great state of Virginia? We think not. But guess what? If W&M wins out over the next four games, the Tribe will be CAA champions and guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs (knock on wood)! We believe!
Look Ahead: This weekend’s game against JMU is huge. And that’s actually an understatement. W&M looks to have dodged a bullet if Vad Lee is out for any extended period of time, but even without the great quarterback, JMU will be no easy task. The Tribe will need to be at its best the rest of the way to have a shot at the playoffs. We like our chances.
Look for our Q&A with the JMU Sports Blog, previewing this week’s game, in the next few days! LET’S GO TRIBE.