RISING TRIBE! Another brilliant display by the Tribe, sporting it’s USA helmets, may have just locked the team into a playoff spot! William and Mary dismantled the Towson Tigers 31-17 on Saturday, putting your Tribe atop the CAA! William and Mary is now assured a share of the CAA title, but will only auto-qualify for the playoffs with a victory over arch-rival Richmond, who is also 8-3. Nevertheless, the Tribe has all but secured a berth in the 2015 FCS playoffs with this victory over Towson.
Game Summary: The Tribe offense was a bit slow to start, as the only score in the first quarter was a 22-yard Nick Dorka field goal. The score capped a nine play, 93-yard drive in which the Tribe dismantled the Towson defense. The Tigers would answer in the second with three points, but receiver Kevin Hart’s five yard TD catch, the first of his collegiate career, capped another long William and Mary drive. William and Mary ended up taking the modest 10-3 lead into the half.
In the third quarter, Towson blew a chance to possibly tie the Tribe, and probably sealed the win for William and Mary. Linebacker Zach Fetters recovered a fumble by Towson’s QB and returned it 56 yards for the touchdown. Towson later answered with a score of their own, however, as Towson’s running back Darius Victor scored on a 13-yard run to bring the Tigers within a touchdown.
Soon after, and at the beginning of the 4th quarter, the game-defining moment occurred. Towson was inside the W&M 10 yard line and looking to tie the game, then down 10-17. This would have been huge had the Tigers been able to pull it off. However, Towson QB Connor Frazier hauled up a pass in the end zone that was picked off by William & Mary’s Mike Barta. The sophomore Barta was filling in for injured strong safety Jared Velasquez and shined in the role. W&M would march down the field and score, putting the Tribe up by two scores.
In the end, William and Mary would tack on two more scores in the fourth, with Kevin Hart grabbing his second TD pass of the game. Victor again ran in a touchdown to bring the Tigers within 7, but trusty running back Kendell Anderson scampered in for a three yard run that closed out the victory. It was actually a little bit of a nail biter as the Tigers kept it close.
Towson plays a very similar brand of football to W&M: strong defense, complimented by a strong running game. It was exciting to see how this played out on the field, but in the end the Tribe prevailed. W&M out-gained the Tigers on the ground 171-136, just barely in net yards passing at 262-231, and in overall yards gained 433-367.
The Good: The second half offense, which scored 14 points and was perfect in the red zone. Kevin Hart and Kendell Anderson both scored for the Tribe, illustrating the balanced attack William and Mary used to beat the Towson defense. It was also great to see Hart not only notch his first ever touchdown catch in a Tribe uniform, but also his second in the same game. And how about Mike Barta filling in for an injured Jared Velasquez with the game-defining interception. Next man up. Roll Tribe.
The Bad: The ground game wasn’t as dominant as it has been in other games. We assume this was a result of Towson’s strong defense, but we hope that the unit can turn it around this week against Richmond. There were also too many fumbles. Towson forced two fumbles and recovered them both against William & Mary. Both DeVonte Dedmon and Mikal Abdul-Saboor, after ripping off incredible runs, had the ball stripped of them at the end of their respective plays. This has got to be corrected in time for the Richmond game, as well as the playoffs. Against great teams, you lose when you turn the football over. Plain and simple.
Injuries Update: Wide receiver Christian Reeves is still out. No timetable reported on his return. Linebacker Ian Haislip also returned to the lineup this week against Towson. This means that all three senior linebackers are again together, for the first time since the UVA game when both Zach Fetters and Ian Haislip went down with injury. They join Luke Rhodes in what is now a star-studded linebacking corps. Strong Safety Jared Velasquez was also out in this game, but next man up Mike Barta was everything we could ask for in this game.
Around the CAA: Stony Brook whooped up on lowly Rhode Island, Elon surprisingly beat Maine, JMU just barely survived against Delaware (why do the Blue Hens do this to people?), and UNH knocked off Albany. But most importantly: down goes Richmond! Again! This time, it came at the hands of a suddenly-hot Villanova team. Guess what that means for the standings? Check it out in our segment below.
CAA Standings: With Richmond having lost to Villanova, William and Mary now holds the CAA lead and controls its own destiny. The Tribe is guaranteed a share of the CAA title, but will have to beat the Spiders Saturday to ensure it gets all of the honor, wins the CAA outright, and auto-qualifies for the postseason. There is a scenario in which Richmond, William and Mary, and either JMU or Villanova all three tie for the CAA championship. But let’s not worry about all the tie-breakers by winning on Saturday.
Look Ahead: The Tribe faces yet another HUGE matchup for the third year in a row vs. the Spiders. W&M will have to break the losing streak in order to win the league outright and win the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. The Tribe has beaten all the top teams in the CAA this year, and looks poised for a playoff run. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!