Following their heartbreaking 13-10 loss at Richmond on Saturday, about 400 Tribe football players, coaches, parents and community members gathered at Miller Hall on Sunday to watch the release of the FCS playoff bracket.
But they would have to wait a while for the news that the College received a first-round home game and a matchup against no. 15 Weber State (7-4) from the NCAA selection committee.
The contest will be at 1:00 pm at Zable Stadium Saturday, and is not currently scheduled to be televised.
The supporters watched the bracket revealed live on ESPNews, and the room erupted in cheers when ESPN reported that William and Mary (9-2) would play Eastern Illinois (7-4), and were awarded the rights to host the contest.
It seemed like as good a situation as Laycock and the rest of the room could have wanted. Little did they know, ESPN had mistakenly shown an incorrect bracket. The Tribe’s actual opponent will be the Wildcats, who finished tied for second in the Big Sky behind top-seeded Montana (11-0).
William and Mary certainly looks to be the favorite on paper against a Weber State team that posted the worst record (7-4) of any team that made it into the tournament. The Wildcats are coming off a victory against Cal Poly (4-7), and their best quality win was over Eastern Washington (8-3). The Tribe will have home field advantage, although many students figure to be home on Thanksgiving break.
“It’s nice to get a home game and play in front of our home fans,” senior quarterback R.J. Archer said.
With a win Saturday, the Tribe would play third-seeded Southern Illinois (10-1) in the second round a week later in Carbondale, Ill. If the College were to win that game, they could end up with a rematch with second-seeded Villanova (10-1) in the national semifinals. They would not meet fourth-seeded rival Richmond (10-1), the defending champions, until the championship game in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“It’s a new season,” Archer said. “We’re playing four new games.”
The Tribe will need to have a short memory after their tough loss to Richmond. The Tribe would have liked to come away with a win, but the result is tempered by their playoff bid.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be our last game,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said.