William and Mary knocked off CAA powerhouse JMU on Saturday, and is now rolling with a FOUR-game win streak! Steve Cluley led a classic comeback drive with five minutes left in the fourth, handing off to Kendell Anderson for the game-winning touchdown. The Tribe is now 6-2, and places second in the CAA.
Game Summary: There were a TON of points scored in this shootout, so try to keep up! James Madison started off the shootout on the opening drive, going 79 yards on 16 plays in just over five minutes. On third and goal, JMU quarterback Bryan Schor ran for the score from nine yards out. However, the extra point was BLOCKED by W&M’s Tyler Claytor and returned for a defensive conversion by safety DeAndre Houston-Carson. Two points for the Tribe. So the game started 6-2 JMU. That’s something you don’t see every day.
Unfortunately, JMU’s defense were the ones to put up points on the Tribe’s first drive, as the Dukes’ Raven Greene returned an errant Steve Cluley pass 35 yards to the house. On the next Tribe possession, the play calling steered clear of the passing game and leaned on the run, as Anderson and Mikal Abdul-Saboor carried the offense down the field. Abdul-Saboor raced away for a 26-yard touchdown, putting the offense on the board. JMU 13 Tribe 9. Not long after, a JMU drive with a few big plays led to Schor’s second touchdown run of the game, and a 21-9 Dukes lead after the first quarter. 30 total points in one quarter. Phew. The Tribe was down. But not out.
Both teams traded punts to open the second quarter, as the defenses attempted to assert their control. The Tribe scored a touchdown in its second drive via a balanced run-pass attack, capped by a second Mikal Abdul-Saboor touchdown run. 21-16 JMU. Let the comeback begin. The next JMU drive saw Dukes running back Ishmael Hyman get the in on the rushing touchdown brigade, scoring from six yards out. However, W&M’s Kendell Anderson scored AGAIN on the next drive. Following each team punting once, the teams went to the locker room, JMU up by just four, 27-23.
After two punts to open the second half, Tribe kicker Nick Dorka missed a long 51-yard field goal try, a coaching decision leaving some scratching their heads. However, if there’s anyone in the CAA capable of making that kick, especially at home, it’s Nick Dorka. JMU’s Cardon Johnson would go on to score from a yard out. But guess what? This was also followed by yet another W&M score from Kendell Anderson. JMU 34 W&M 30.
The Tribe entered the fourth quarter down by four, having held their own in this high scoring affair. Mikal Abdul-Saboor would go on to continue his monster day with yet another 15-yard touchdown run, putting W&M up for the first time all day: 37-34. But the Dukes weren’t done yet. Soon after, JMU regained their lead via a quick 75 yard drive, jumping past the Tribe 41-37. William and Mary, in historic fashion, proceeded to march down the field on 12 plays in just under five minutes.
A key JMU pass interference call gave William and Mary an easy path to cap would would be the game winning rushing touchdown. By guess who? Kendell Anderson, for his 3rd of the night–and 6th total rushing touchdown for the Tribe. Tribe 44 JMU 41. The Dukes would go on to fumble the snap on the next play, W&M recovered, and the Tribe walked off the field VICTORIOUS! We told you there were a lot of points, didn’t we?
The Good: The offense and the running game kept the Tribe in this one till the end, and put them in position to win the game on that final drive. Kendell Anderson and Mikal Abdul-Saboor combined for an insane SIX rushing touchdowns. After the early Cluely interception, the passing game was dialed back, and the running game flourished. Kendell has been red hot all year, and as he continued his ways, it was nice to see Abdul-Saboor rack up a few touchdowns of his own. And let’s not forget the THREE extra point attempt BLOCKS by senior Tyler Claytor. One was called back due to a penalty, but Claytor blocked an insane two extra point attempts as he dominated JMU’s interior line on special teams. This is a rare feat, that should not be overlooked. Senior captain and NFL prospect DeAndre Houston-Carson also finished with historic numbers: 16 total tackles, 11 solo, 1 sack, 1 INT, and one fumble recovery return to the house on an extra point attempt. Wow. That’s all we can say. That’ll have NFL scouts raving for weeks.
The Bad: Defensively, the Tribe was consistently beaten drive after drive, play after play, throughout the game. Besides the two-point defensive conversion, the defense didn’t have much to cheer about. Too many big plays put pressure on the William and Mary offense, and gave JMU too many red zone opportunities. One bright spot in the defense was that the unit didn’t stay on the field long; in comparison the Dukes defense was on the field for over 38 minutes. However, that’s more likely due to JMU’s up tempo, high-powered offense than anything else. In the end, we would have liked to see more from the defense, which came in as the CAA’s leader in scoring defense.
Injuries: In a surprise move, senior linebacker Luke Rhodes returned for the Tribe against JMU. He played the entire game, and didn’t look like he was suffering. Likewise, wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon played in this one. He was unlikely to dress as well. This is good news for the Tribe, and we hope these two can get through the rest of the season. However, the Tribe did lose Christian Reeves to injury toward the end of the game. The wide receiver was seen walking after the game, and we hope he’s okay to play this coming week vs. Elon as well.
Around the CAA: League leader Richmond edged Albany 38-31 in another shootout, with Albany putting up a valiant effort in the loss. New Hampshire scored six points in the fourth quarter to defeat Rhode Island, though overall they continued their points struggle on offense. The Tribe’s final home opponent, Towson, blanked UDelaware 19-0, making the Tribe’s late loss to the Blue Hens from a few weeks ago that much more frustrating. The next William and Mary opponent, Elon, topped Stony Brook 21-7, dominating the SBU offense.
Standings: The Tribe is now second in the CAA, behind the flaming hot Richmond Spiders. Richmond, who lost their opening day matchup, is riding a seven-game win streak, and will host the Tribe in the regular season finale at Richmond. JMU drops to third in the standings, a half game back of William and Mary (the Dukes haven’t had their bye yet). W&M is the only one-loss team in the entire CAA.
Look Ahead: William and Mary controls its own destiny. If the team can manage to win out, it will win the CAA and ensure a playoff spot. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. But we believe! Don’t you?! GO TRIBE GO!!!