Ouch. That one hurt. A dismal first half, led to a near-historic comeback, only for your beloved Tribe to falter at the end in the absolute worst way possible. It wasn’t pretty. And although the final score did not end up in the good guys’ favor, there were naturally some bright spots. We saw resiliency out of this team that we haven’t yet seen this season. “Never quit” truly was the mantra today.
However, as with any loss, there were areas for improvement. Heading into next week’s contest on the road against a strong Elon team, the William & Mary Tribe will need to make some serious adjustments. Roll Tribe.
- Running Back Nate Evans: For the second week in a row, Nate Evans was an absolute monster for the Tribe, so much so, that he took home CAA Rookie of the Week honors for his performance. Truly showing out as the best running back of W&M’s current stable, he finished on the ground with 14 carries for 82 yards and 1 touchdown, while also leading the team through the air, finishing with 5 receptions for 80 yards. He truly can do it all — we weren’t kidding with last week’s NFL comparison. He truly does remind of us the Atlanta Falcons’ DeVonta Freeman. Not only in heigh and weight, but also in the way he plays the game. A true dual-threat/multi-dimensional back that can get the job done in more ways than one. And no, we didn’t forget about Albert Funderburke, our incredibly talented sophomore that is still injured. We’re beyond excited to see what this Evans can do alongside Funderburke for the Tribe in the years to come.
- The (Almost) Come Back: Long story short, W&M nearly overcame a 21-point deficit. Yes, the team found itself down 0-21. Did you take note of the final score? Your Tribe battled all the way back within three, and nearly tied the game as the final seconds wound down…painfully…wound down. Despite the loss, the comeback effort was enough for Jimmye Laycock to remark, “I like the way we battled back, we sure tried everything — just came up a little short.” The fact that this team didn’t throw in the towel, when most would, tells us a lot about its character. From the coaches on down, Laycock has instilled a never-quit culture at W&M — one of the many reasons he’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when the time comes.
- 2nd Half Defense: As W&M’s offense picked up in the second half, so did its defense. After giving up 14 points in the first half, and a quick TD in the third, the Green and Gold buckled down and shut the Seawolves down. And we mean shut completely down. Following Stony Brook’s 3rd quarter touchdown with 8:16 remaining, their last four offensive drives finished with punts after meager drives of 17 yards, 8 yards, 17 yards, and 7 yards. Absolute dominance by the Tribe defense. We’ll look for this trend to continue next week against Elon.
- Bonus – Punter Will Michael: Another true freshman, punter Will Michael, turned in the best statistical performance of his young collegiate career, averaging 46.3 yards on 4 punts. His total also included an incredibly long 65-yard punt that was booted over 40 yards in the air before taking a nice William & Mary bounce deep into Stony Brook territory. It’s safe to say that the future of the Tribe punting game looks strong, and we’re excited to see what Michael can do the rest of the season.
- Yet ANOTHER Slow Start: 0-21. Do we need to say more? Let’s not soon forget the Tribe’s (and specifically the Tribe offense’s) slow starts in the two games prior: @ Norfolk State and vs. Bucknell — with an especially slow start in the latter. As we’ve continually stated in our postgame analyses, this effort won’t fly in the CAA. The conference isn’t known as the SEC of the FCS for nothing. Slow starts, especially against high-powered CAA offenses, will result in losses. It’s really as simple as that. And you can bet, against teams like Richmond and JMU, the end score won’t have the Tribe within 3. Teams like the Spiders and Dukes are capable of blowing teams out of the water in the first half, beyond repair. This trend will need to end quickly if the Tribe wishes to have a shot at a playoff berth this season.
- The Entire First Half (and beginning of the 3rd quarter): After W&M safety Mike Barta forced and recovered a fumble on Stony Brook’s opening drive, the Tribe’s luck would run out — at least in the first two quarters. The Seawolves would go on to convert on a field goal and touchdown in their next two drives. Meanwhile, the Tribe offense punted the ball three times, threw an interception, and missed a field goal in the first half. Not the Green and Gold’s best effort. It wasn’t until midway through the third, after yet another Stony Brook touchdown, that the Tribe woke up and realized they were actually playing a football game. By that time, it was already 0-21, in favor of the Seawolves. Too little too late.
- The End of the Game: So we actually have to talk about this? Still recovering…in the final 8 seconds of the game, the Tribe offense looked dominant. Having scored 18 unanswered points, with all the momentum in front of a home crowd, William & Mary drove from its own 38 yard-line to the Stony Brook 22. Everything was looking up — the Tribe would spike the ball, stop the clock, connect on the short field goal, taking this thing to overtime with everything in its favor. However, as Tommy McKee lined up under center to snap the ball, a Tribe player jumped, forcing the refs to throw the flag for a false start. However, this was no ordinary flag. There was a 10-second runoff associated with this one (GAME OVER). Why, you ask? The 10-second runoff rule exists only within the last minute of the game, and is in place to prevent a team from using its own penalty or injury to stop the clock without using a timeout. And thus, William & Mary lost the game on a 10-second runoff, due to a false start as the Tribe got ready to tie the game up on a short field goal. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Around the CAA
Albany narrowly lost to the Tribe’s upcoming opponent, the Elon Phoenix — who look much improved from a season ago. JMU knocked out Delaware in a closer-than-expected contest. Villanova unsurprisingly knocked out the lowly Towson Tigers, and New Hampshire rolled at home over Bryant. Maine’s game against UCF was cancelled/delayed, and the Rhode Island Rams fell to Brown on the road.
Your William & Mary Tribe travels to take on a strong Elon team next weekend in North Carolina. It’ll be a tough contest, and the Tribe will have to get off to a fast start. With some adjustments, we believe the Tribe can get the job done. Keep believin’ and LET’S GO TRIBE!!!