The Tribe fell to 4-6 on Saturday with a disappointing loss to the now 3-7 Towson Tigers. W&M came out strong in the first half, driving down the field three times for touchdowns while conceding just 10 points in the first half. However, Towson came out firing in the second half (and wouldn’t let up), scoring on a 70-yard run and a soul-crushing 81-yard kickoff return to tie the game after a successful field goal drive from William and Mary. The Tribe never regained momentum as Towson would go on to rattle off consecutive scoring drives lasting longer than six minutes each to put the game out of reach. It wasn’t pretty; W&M was outscored 3-24 in the second half. Ouch. Final score: 34-24.
- Steve Cluley – The senior quarterback showed life in the final road game of his career, finishing an efficient 17-25 with 178 passing yards on the day. Cluley missed few throws and really did spread the wealth, with seven different receivers recording catches on the day. Unfortunately, his one interception was a bit of a let down. If he hit the open man, the Tribe may have had a fighting shot down just three points with five minutes to play. Instead, the Green and Gold trailed by two possessions without the ball. Cluley continued to show himself as a dual-threat quarterback, gaining 47 yards on five non-sack carries. It seems that every designed quarterback run play is effective. This might be something we see more of as the W&M offense continues to evolve year to year under Offensive Coordinator Kevin Rogers.
- Kendell Anderson – As has been the theme since he returned from injury vs. Elon, Anderson again shouldered much of the offensive workload for the Tribe in this one, accumulating 27 rushes and 140 yards on the ground vs. Towson. Because of injuries, the Tribe lacked an experienced secondary running back option, and relied solely on Anderson. Anderson ran hard, breaking countless tackles and creating holes even when the offensive line struggled to create them. Though he didn’t have many long runs, he kept the offense moving forward with several three and four yard gains.
- Offensive Line – As alluded to before, the good rushing numbers are mostly attributed to Kendell Anderson breaking tackles and running creatively. Time and again, Anderson found himself with little room to run in the backfield, only to fight for positive yardage. Understandably, Steve Cluley found less success when met in the backfield. The offensive line suffered a season-high five sacks, which often killed drives at crucial moments. Fittingly, the Green and Gold’s final possession ended with sacks on both third and fourth down to surrender the ball to Towson for a final time. It’s hard to keep drives going as an offense when you are constantly pushed backwards. We expect a little more out of this veteran line moving forward.
- Defensive Line – Somewhat unsurprisingly, Towson gashed the Tribe defense on the ground, gaining 278 yards and three touchdowns. As has been the case all season, W&M has not been able to stop the run. While the secondary limited Towson’s passing attack to a mediocre day, the Tigers needed only their rushing to sustain them. The Tribe’s defensive line rarely stuffed the rush, totaling just two tackles for loss on the day. The Tigers repeatedly gained (at least) three yards on the ground, which set up easy conversions on third down. Worse yet, William and Mary again failed to get to the quarterback, finishing another game without recording a sack. Currently, the Tribe ranks last in the conference in the sack department by a distance, having gained just 10 sacks on the year, while the next worst team, Elon, has 14. This has been a recurring problem for the Tribe since the graduation of Mike Reilly two years earlier.
- Kickoff Return Touchdown – Although W&M kicker Kris Hooper has rebounded to a successful season with his All-American counterpart Nick Dorka still injured on the bench, special teams continue to plague the Tribe. This week it was not a blocked punt, but a kickoff return that swung the game away from the Tribe. Despite problem-free kick coverage in the first half, William and Mary squib kicked after its second half field goal, only to watch the Towson return man go 81 yards virtually untouched to tie the game with a score. The TD truly switched the momentum in the game, as the Tribe never scored again.
With just one game left in the season, sitting with a 2-5 CAA record, it’s more than safe to say that W&M won’t make the playoffs this year. JMU has looked like the cream of the crop all season long, having defeated Richmond and everyone else of note in the CAA–their most recent victims being the Villanova Wildcats last Saturday. Richmond isn’t too far off at the #2 spot, but the Spiders have already lost to JMU, and are clearly the lesser of the two teams this season. The Spiders’ only other loss this year came early in the season at the hands of Stony Brook–a team that the Tribe managed to knock off two weeks ago. With the Green and Gold going into its annual season finale game against arch-rival Richmond, anything is possible. But make no mistake, next Saturday’s game is purely for bragging rights.
Next week’s game is against a Richmond team that the Tribe hasn’t been able to defeat in recent years, having most recently beat the Spiders way back in the 2011 season. Regardless, and as previously mentioned, W&M beat Stony Brook. And Stony Brook beat Richmond! So by the transitive property, obviously W&M will win! Right? Okay, we know it might be a long shot, but it is still altogether possible. The Tribe will be at home, and it will be the last game that several seniors play. The Green and Gold should be fired up and ready to go this coming week. We believe. LET’S GO TRIBE.