Football: Head hunting

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November 3, 2008

10:44 PM

TRIBE 34, TOWSON 14

The College of William and Mary (6-2, 4-1 CAA) was in a familiar situation at halftime in its contest against Towson University (3-6, 1-4 CAA) 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. Towson managed just seven second half yards.

“We kind of put ourselves in a hole in the first half, but we maintained our poise and came back,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “It was a good solid effort for us in the second half.”

Freshman tailback Jonathan Grimes ran for 96 yards and a touchdown, and senior linebacker Michael Pigram came up with a big fumble recovery, as the College turned a tight game into a blowout in the second half.

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 it drove deep into Towson territory in the second quarter. However, Towson safety Drew Mack picked off Phillips’s pass 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 score even, the Tigers then went ahead on a desperation 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.

“It was a wakeup call,” junior defensive end Adrian Tracy said.

Receiving the halftime kickoff, the Tribe promptly embarked on a methodical 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive punctuated by Phillips’s 19-yard touchdown strike to sophomore wideout Chase Hill.
With the game even, the Tigers responded by botching the first snap of their ensuing drive. 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 for the score.

The College then capped a third quarter in which it outgained Towson 204 to -4 in offensive yardage with a 39-yard field goal from junior kicker Brian Pate to gain a 27-14 lead.

A fourth-quarter touchdown run by Grimes and interceptions from senior cornerback Derek Cox and sophomore safety Michael Alvarado ensured the victory.

The College won its fourth straight conference game for the first time since 2004. It put itself in control of its own destiny, heading into its final three games against Northeastern University, James Madison University and the University of Richmond.

“All I can say is that we’ve won six, and that’s the only thing in the books,” Laycock said. “It’s something you can’t take for granted, especially in this league, but we’re not looking at that right now. It’s good, but now we’re looking at [our next game].”

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