Last week, William and Mary experienced the most exhilarating of college football achievements: the major upset over an in-state rival. Saturday, they were left with the less-exciting aftermath: the trap game against a less-glamorous opponent.
But with Northeastern conference foe Central Connecticut State in town, the Tribe was able to post touchdowns on two of their first three possessions to jump to a 16-0 lead on the way to a comfortable 33-14 win.
The Tribe would successfully avoid a letdown one week after defeating ACC-foe Virginia, and improved the team’s record to 2-0 for the first time since 2001.
However, the College was inconsistent at times on both sides of the ball, failing to get fully in sync against a weaker Blue Devil squad.
“We did what we had to do to get a win tonight,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “I don’t think we played great, but it’s a win.”
After operating a conservative offensive game plan against U.Va., Laycock was aggressive early, capping a 13-play opening drive by going for the touchdown on fourth and goal from the one-yard line. Senior quarterback R.J. Archer scrambled right on a naked bootleg, outracing the defense to the pylon to take an early 7-0 lead.
The teams then traded punts before senior defensive end C.J. Herbert hit CCSU quarterback Hunter Wankett at his own two-yard line, knocking the ball loose. The Blue Devils recovered in their own end zone for a Tribe safety.
The College put the game all but out of reach on the ensuing possession. Archer drove the Tribe 58 yards in five plays, going up 16-0 after junior tailback Courtland Marriner broke a 37-yard touchdown run down the right sideline.
“In the first half, offensively, it was tough to find something to fault,” Laycock said. “R.J. played really well. He made some nice throws, some nice decisions.”
The Blue Devils managed to generate some offensive rhythm in the second quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns on lengthy drives.
But the Tribe had answers each time, as Archer responded to both CCSU scores with a touchdown pass. The senior tossed a 17-yarder to junior fullback Jimmy Hobson, and connected with senior wideout D.J. McAulay for a 21-yard score before halftime.
After the break, the Tribe shut out their opponents in the second half for the second straight week, holding the Blue Devils’s option-heavy attack to a mere 78 yards rushing on the day.
Sophomore linebacker Jake Trantin led the way with 10 tackles, but the College was occasionally thrown off balance by CCSU’s quick rushing offense.
“We made some plays and made some stops when we needed to, but we expected more,” Trantin said. “We didn’t come out the way we should have; usually, we’re a little sharper.”
Sophomore tailback Jonathan Grimes finished with 82 yards on 19 carries to reach 1,000 yards for his career. Needing only 19 games, he became the fastest in Tribe history to reach that mark.
The game was marred by an injury to redshirt freshman Ryan Moody on a third-quarter interception. The wideout suffered an ankle injury while attempting to make a tackle, and spent 15 minutes down on the field. Laycock confirmed that Moody would need surgery following the game.
That factor contributed to a subdued mood, despite the win. But overall, the College was happy to escape its home opener with a perfect record intact.
“You think about [the game] all week, you don’t want to slip up,” senior safety Robert Livingston said. “After a big win, a loss takes everything away. We got a win, but no one is satisfied.”