The College of William and Mary (6-2, 4-1 CAA) found itself in a familiar situation at halftime of its contest against Towson University (3-6, 1-4 CAA) on Saturday. Playing on the road against an inferior conference opponent, the Tribe trailed 14-7 after a first half filled with mistakes and missed opportunities in an eerie repeat of last week’s game against the University of Rhode Island.
Luckily for the Tribe, the comparisons to last week’s homecoming contest did not end at the half. Just as the College stormed back to defeat Rhode Island, the Tribe emerged from the locker room and put together a dominating second-half performance, burying the shell-shocked Tigers 34-14 behind 265 yards and three touchdowns with one interception from senior quarterback Jake Phillips.
Freshman tailback Jonathan Grimes ran for 96 yards and a touchdown and junior linebacker Michael Pigram came up with a big fumble recovery as the College poured it on in the second half, turning a tight game into a blowout.
However, the final result seemed unlikely after a first half in which Towson kept the Tribe off balance with a series of big plays and stout third down defense.
After the College opened the scoring with a 65-yard Phillips touchdown pass to junior wideout D.J. McAulay, the Tribe seemed poised to take a two possession lead when they drove deep into Towson territory in the second quarter. However, Towson safety Drew Mack picked off Phillips at the Tigers’ 19-yard line to stifle the threat.
Towson quarterback Sean Schaeffer quickly moved his squad into Tribe territory in four plays, but was faced with a fourth and one at the College’s 27-yard line. Going for the first down rather than taking the field goal, the senior executed a superb play action fake and found tight end John Godlasky wide open for a tying score.
With the scoreline still even, the Tigers then went ahead on a desperate 44-yard touchdown pass with only four seconds left in the half, as receiver Tommy Breaux slipped behind sophomore cornerback Ben Cottingham to haul in the reception and supply his team with the halftime advantage.
Despite the unfortunate turn of events, the Tribe did not crumble at the break. Instead, as the squad has done all season, the College rallied.
Receiving the halftime kickoff, the Tribe promptly embarked on a methodical, 10 play, 80-yard scoring drive punctuated by a Phillips 19-yard touchdown strike to sophomore wideout Chase Hill.
With the game now even, the Tigers responded by botching the first snap of their ensuing drive when Schaeffer bobbled the snap and Pigram raced in to cover up the football at the Towson 36-yard line.
Three plays later, the Tribe seized a lead which it would not relinquish. After quickly moving to the Towson 17-yard line, junior tight end Rob Varno found a seam in the middle of the Tiger’s two deep zone defense and Phillips hit his teammate at the goalline for the score.
The College then capped a third quarter – in which it outgained Towson 204 to -4 in offensive yardage – with a 29-yard field goal from junior kicker Brian Pate to craft a 24-14 lead.
A fourth quarter Grimes touchdown and interceptions from senior cornerback Derek Cox and sophomore safety Michael Alvarado, coupled with a second Pate field goal ensured the victory, the College’s fourth straight on the season.