With games against no. 9 New Hampshire and no. 1 Richmond looming, it would be understandable for the no. 5 Tribe to have overlooked its Saturday matchup with the struggling Towson University (2-7, 1-5 CAA).
Instead, William and Mary took care of business, blanking the Tigers 31-0 to enter its crucial late-season stretch with a 5-1 conference record and 8-1 overall. With the win, the Tribe extended its winning streak to four games, its best start since 1986.
The College cruised to victory by virtue of a solid offensive performance and an imposing defensive line. The Tribe, however, offense failed to dominate, despite posting 31 points.
“We made some mistakes; it wasn’t as pretty as we would like it to be, but at this stage of the season, you take them any way you can get them,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “Getting our eighth win was very significant, and getting a shutout was very significant.”
Senior defensive end C.J. Herbert and the Tribe defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage and shut down the Towson offense, allowing just 72 yards on the ground. The College held the Tigers to only 19 yards in the third quarter, effectively sealing the game’s outcome.
“We were just trying to shut down whatever they came at us with,” junior linebacker Wes Steinman said. “We take a lot of pride in the fact that we shut down the run. We always try to make them one-dimensional, and if we can succeed at that, we can do pretty well.”
The secondary also had a standout day, with sophomore linebacker Jake Trantin and sophomore cornerback Terrell Wells each contributing an interception.
The College’s offense got off to a slow start with several miscues and missed opportunities but quickly recovered behind the strong play of sophomore tailback Jonathan Grimes, who finished the day with 91 yards on 21 carries.
Although senior quarterback R.J. Archer took some time to get comfortable, he eventually regained his rhythm with a series of long completions to senior tight end Rob Varno. The senior then capped a long, methodical, 18-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown scramble to provide the first touchdown of the contest.
Following a Towson three-and-out, the Tribe again marched down the field. Grimes pounded in a two-yard score to give the College a 17-0 advantage heading into halftime.
After the break, the Tribe offense continued to institute a healthy mix of running and passing plays. In the third quarter, senior wideout Eric Robertson put the Tribe up 24-0 with a 25-yard touchdown reception, his first career score. In the final period, junior tailback Courtland Marriner provided another seven points from a two-yard run with one minute remaining.
While the College offense slowed its pace in the second half, the defense refused to yield. Just as Towson put together its first meaningful offensive drive of the day, Wells robbed the Tigers by intercepting quarterback Tommy Chroniger at the goal line, sealing the shutout.
“The thing I like most about this team, is we come off a win like this, and in the locker room, not everybody is going crazy,” Archer said. “We could have done better in some areas. I think we can build on this going forward.”
The win kept the College squarely in the thick of the congested FCS playoff picture, with two weekends remaining in the regular season.
“I think that it’s very good that we are playing big games in November,” Laycock said. “It’s what you always strive to do; when November rolls around, you always want the games to count for something. It’s exciting to be in the hunt.”