Gutsy. Absolutely gutsy performance all the way to the end by your beloved Tribe. After an uninspiring season, you almost couldn’t script it any better for W&M in this one, as the Seniors absolutely shined in their last-ever game for the Green and Gold. The victory brought the Capital Cup back to W&M for the first time since 2011, and marked the first W&M win over Richmond since dropping the last five contests vs. the Spiders. In Zable Stadium on Saturday, it really felt like the season ended on a high note. Despite finishing 5-6, a season can never be deemed a complete failure when the Tribe upsets its arch-rival Richmond–and boy did it feel good.
- QB Steve Cluley – Although this season hasn’t exactly gone as planned for the W&M offense, 3rd year starter Steve Cluley turned in the most gutsy performance of his career on Saturday. Enough can’t be said about his valiant effort against a very good Richmond defense. Early in the game, Cluley took a hit and fell on his left (non-throwing shoulder). He remained on the turf after the play, got looked at by the trainers, and left the field for 3-5 plays–during which backup QB Tommy McKee filled in admirably. Like only a true gamer could, Cluley quickly returned to the field on the very same drive. Noticeably injured and bending his left arm as though it were in a sling, Steve continued to press on for the Tribe from that point on. He ran, he passed, and most impressively, he led. Like a Senior Captain should. One of the most memorable plays of the game came on a 2-point conversion attempt for the Green and Gold. Cluley scrambled right, looking for an open man. When he found no one open, he ran 35+ yards back to the other side of the field, evading defenders, and diving into the end zone–nearly missing a last-second tackle. This kid truly gave EVERYTHING he had for the Tribe. In a game he knew wouldn’t put the team over the hump for the playoffs, Cluley played through a significant injury to deliver the Tribe a win over arch-rival Richmond in his last ever game wearing a Green and Gold jersey. An absolute gamer. Ultimate respect for Cluley. Legendary performance. Final stat line: 17-25, 190 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT.
- RB Kendell Anderson – The workhorse of this year’s offense, Kendell has truly run like a man possessed since coming off of an early season injury. He finishes the season ranked #3 in the CAA in rushing with 1077 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. The bread and butter of the Tribe’s offense over the last two seasons, Kendell certainly didn’t disappoint in his final game as a member of the Tribe. The obvious game plan going into this one from Offensive Coordinator Kevin Rogers‘ perspective was to give Kendell the ball until his legs fell off. And it worked perfectly. If your last name weren’t “Anderson,” it’s safe to say you didn’t receive a carry. And yes, we mean that quite literally. When it was all said and done, Kendell racked up an insane 219 rushing yards and 2 TDs on 42 attempts. Yes. 42 attempts. He gashed the Richmond defense throughout the contest, especially in the second half when it really counted. Richmond’s players had their hands on their hips as Kendell continued to grind it out behind a resurgent W&M offensive line. In his last game ever, he was named MVP of the Capital Cup. What an end to an incredible collegiate career which has seen him rush for nearly 2,500 yards over the last two seasons. Kendell, we salute you.
- TE Andrew Caskin – After a mediocre season (prior to the Richmond game) that saw him haul in just one touchdown catch, the future W&M Captain showed up big on Saturday (yes, we are predicting Caskin will be one of the four selected as a Captain this offseason!). He was all over the field, especially around the end zone, finishing with 3 catches– including 2 for touchdowns. Listed at a tall 6’5″ 240 pounds, Caskin truly is hard to miss, and to bring down. After hauling in the second most passes on the team last season, it comes as no surprise to us that Caskin went off against the Spiders this past Saturday. Only a junior, his remaining year of eligibility bodes well for for the Green and Gold next season, in what will be Andrew’s senior year. Here’s to many more touchdown passes in Caskin’s future! Roll Tribe.
- The W&M Run Defense – As has been the case all season, W&M’s run defense just wasn’t good. Richmond’s freshman running back finished with 19 carries for 144 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and 1 TD. This is something that W&M will need to fix in the offseason heading into next year. Opposing CAA teams know how to run the ball, so the Green and Gold defense will need to make this priority #1 in the offseason.
- Kyle Lauletta’s Injury – Richmond’s QB went down early in this one. Making a cut on a scrambling play (that was called back due to a holding call), he left the game and never returned. This truly was the turning point of the game, as both of Richmond’s backup QBs turned in uninspiring performances. Following the game, news broke that the #1 passer in the CAA had suffered a torn ACL, and will likely be out 9+ months rehabbing the injury. As such, Richmond will be hard-pressed to make a deep playoff run this season. Our thoughts go out to Lauletta for a quick recovery.
Although W&M didn’t qualify for the playoffs, the season ended on a high note–and again, any season that has the Tribe beating Richmond can be deemed, at the very least, a decent one. The team came together in a “meaningless” contest (in terms of playoff implications), and took down its arch-rival at home. Enough said. Heading into the offseason, the Green and Gold will have plenty to work on, with several key players graduating. Replacing QB Steve Cluley will be priority #1, and fixing the run defense will be #2. We’re excited to see what the future holds for this Tribe team; with Jimmye as our coach, we know the sky’s the limit, and we already can’t wait to get back to Zable next season.
LET’S GO TRIBE!!!