TRIBE 27, DELAWARE 3
When the University of Delaware penciled in the College of William and Mary as its 2008 homecoming opponent, the contest was no doubt viewed as a cupcake win for a program expected to challenge for a conference title.
However, after 30 minutes Saturday, the Tribe (4-2, 2-1 CAA) had firmly established itself as a legitimate CAA contender, riding a dominant defensive effort and a strong first half to an impressive 27-3 road victory over Delaware (2-5, 0-3 CAA).
“We played solid and smart football,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “Our players were focused and it showed.”
The Tribe utilized lengthy scoring drives of 93 and 71 yards to take a 13-0 lead into the break, as junior kicker Brian Pate sandwiched field goals of 32 and 33 yards around a 1-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Jake Phillips.
In the second half, the College kept up the onslaught. Phillips hit sophomore wideout Chase Hill for a 44-yard touchdown strike, before freshman tailback Jonathan Grimes punctuated the victory with a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
Phillips was excellent for the second straight week, completing 26 of 38 passes for 338 yards and a score, while giving up one interception. The senior spread the ball around effectively, hitting seven different receivers for completions and keeping Delaware’s defense, ranked among the top units in the FCS, off-balance. Senior wide receiver Elliot Mack had a huge day with 119 receiving yards, while Hill racked up 105 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the College completely shut down a Delaware offense that had averaged over 21 points a game, limiting the Blue Hens to a mere 145 total yards. The Tribe recorded 11 tackles for loss with senior linebacker Josh Rutter notching three of those stops coupled with a crucial interception.
“I have to credit the defense [with the win],” Phillips said. “They held strong throughout the game [and] picked us up no matter what we were doing on offense.”
After the Tribe went ahead 3-0 on the strength of a Pate field goal to cap its first offensive possession, the Blue Hens responded effectively, marching downfield inside the College’s 20-yard line before missing a 35-yard field goal. Delaware would not enter Tribe territory again for the remainder of the half, as the College’s defense repeatedly harried quarterback Robby Schoenhoft and shut down the Blue Hens’ rushing attack.
After the teams traded six straight punts to open the second half, Delaware looked to have manufactured an opportunity to get back into the game when defensive back Anthony Walters picked off Phillips at midfield with four minutes and 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter. But Rutter responded with an interception of his own on the very next play.
“A lesser team would have lost confidence there,” Laycock said. “That shows a lot to me. We didn’t let that get us down and we bounced right back from it.”
Eight minutes later a Delaware punt hit junior safety David Caldwell, and Blue Hen senior Johnathan Smith fell on the ball at the College’s 15-yard line. The Tribe defense stood firm, allowing the Delaware only three yards on the drive and forcing a field goal, which cut the margin to 13-3.
On the ensuing College possession, Phillips used just four plays to march his team into the end zone, culminating with his 44-yard touchdown pass to Hill to push the lead to 20-3.
“At the beginning of the play I wasn’t even open,” Hill said. “I was able to split a couple of defenders and Jake saw me and got me the ball. I didn’t even know I could run that fast.”
After a Delaware punt, the Tribe iced the game with a nine play, 93-yard touchdown drive ending with a 2-yard Grimes touchdown run, sending the Delaware fans streaming for the exits early and the College home with a crucial conference win on the road.