For the second straight week, the College of William and Mary utilized a dominant first half to cruise to an easy victory over a lower-conference opponent. Senior quarterback R.J. Archer threw for 153 yards and three first half touchdowns as the Tribe downed Norfolk State 27-15, improving to 3-0 for the first time since 1998.
“I thought we came out this week ready to play. This game was virtually over after three quarters,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “They got some points, and we aren’t happy about that, but our guys were focused on what we needed to do.”
Archer, who was listed as questionable before the game due to a knee injury, left all uncertainty about the outcome of the night’s contest behind with his third solid outing of 2009. The quarterback completed his first five passes while leading the Tribe to a 21-0 halftime lead.
The College wasted no time in scoring points, as senior tailback Jonathan Grimes put the Tribe on top early with a 10 yard touchdown reception 4 minutes and 33 seconds into the game.
The Tribe added to its lead only one minute later thanks to a timely interception by sophomore linebacker Jake Trantin. Norfolk State quarterback Dennis Brown scrambled right and fired an ill-advised pass into Trantin’s waiting arms. Archer and the Tribe offense quickly took advantage, as senior wide receiver D.J. McAulay hauled in a 13 yard touchdown score to give the College a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Spartans seemed to have regained their composure, and put together several solid drives. However, Norfolk State was thwarted by several key miscues, including a botched snap on a field goal attempt.
The Tribe took advantage of the Norfolk State mistakes, and all but sealed the game with a 12-play, 87-yard march down the field. The drive was enabled by a bit of special teams trickery; on 4th and 2, punter David Miller received the snap, rolled out to the right, and instead of booting the ball into the air, scrambled for the first down.
After the game, Laycock admitted that he didn’t call for the run, and instead the decision was made by Miller and the special teams coaches.
“If he has that option, he can go with it,” Laycock said. “When I saw him take off, I thought, ‘He better make it.’”
After receiving a fresh set of downs, the College steadily marched down the field on a drive capped by a beautiful, diving grab by McAulay in the end zone.
“It was just a great catch. [McAulay] ran a great route and I was glad he turned around when he did and he found the ball,” Archer said. “I just had to put it right on the front pylon and let him go get it, and he did.”
In the second half, with the win well in hand, the Tribe began to ease up. Redshirt sophomore Terrance Schmand replaced Archer at quarterback and, after missing a few completions, was stripped by the Spartan defense for a turnover. Several plays later, Norfolk State scored on a fourth down pass play from Brown to receiver P.J. Hayden to avoid the shutout.
A late botched snap on a Tribe punt provided the Spartans with a safety and Norfolk State scored a touchdown on the ensuring drive to provide the final margin.
Amid the late defensive letdown, the Tribe can take solace in a very strong rushing performance. Junior running back Terrence Riggins shone in the second half, and was one of the main cogs in a Tribe rushing attack that amassed 210 yards on the ground.
Despite the lackluster conclusion, Laycock was pleased with the team’s victory, and more importantly, the start to the season.
“The last three weeks we have taken care of business, and that’s what you like to do,” he said. “We didn’t blow anybody out, but we took care of business.”