__Receiver injured in fourth quarter of Thursday night’s 49-31 loss to Delaware__
Things were starting to come around for junior wide receiver D.J. McAulay Thursday night, but in one play everything came crashing down.
p. McAulay was nearing the end of his best game at the College, having already hauled in seven passes for 162 yards and one touchdown in a breakout offensive performance, when redshirt-freshman running back Courtland Marriner crashed into him as he was tackled during a routine running play mid-way through the fourth quarter. It appeared that McAulay sustained an injury to his knee on the play, and he did not return to the field during the remainder of the game.
p. “He sustained a knee injury Thursday night against Delaware and the MRI confirmed that it was a MCL,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said via conference call Monday. “It’s going to require surgery, so he’s going to be gone for the season.”
p. McAulay showed flashes of talent in his first two years for the Tribe, but playing as the featured receiver Thursday night proved to be the kick-start he had been looking for.
p. “It’s really a shame because D.J. had, I thought, his best game of his career,” Laycock said. “He really started coming into his own and playing well. We’re going to really miss him.”
p. McAulay emerged as junior quarterback Jake Phillips favorite target Thursday night, tallying the first 100-yard receiving game of his career to assist Phillips’ record-setting 433-yard passing explosion. Phillips targeted McAulay on a fourth and goal attempt for the Tribe in the second quarter, but the quarterback’s pass sailed just out of McAulay’s reach – one of several opportunities the College failed to capitalize on against Delaware.
p. The Tribe entered the season thin at the wide receiver position as senior Joe Nicholas was forced to miss the opener with a minor injury. Sophomore R.J. Archer, who spent the off-season at the quarterback position, made a spot start in the slot receiver position and preformed well, catching five passes for 58 yards while creating havoc in the middle of the field. Archer’s play allowed McAulay to draw less coverage and get open downfield more often, which contributed to his performance.
p. At this time Nicholas is still not listed on the Tribe’s two-deep roster for Saturday’s contest at Virginia Military Institute. In all likelihood, Nicholas will not play in the game.
p. “I don’t know if [Nicholas] will be back this week,” Laycock said. “We’re kind of taking it day by day. He has not practiced with us yet. He’s getting better.”
p. Junior wide receiver Elliot Mack, along with redshirt freshmen receivers Cameron Dohse and quarterback turned receiver Chase Hill, are expected to replace McAulay. Mack caught four passes for 53 yards against Delaware. Dohse saw action but did not record a reception.
p. The Tribe suffered hard luck with knee injuries last season as well, when junior linebacker Josh Rutter suffered a season-ending ACL injury against VMI last year. Rutter returned to the Tribe defense against Delaware and recorded 11 tackles in the game.