It’s not how you start, its how you finish.
After allowing Richmond (6-5, 4-4 CAA) to march down the field and score a field goal early in the first half, William and Mary (8-3, 6-2 CAA) reeled off 41 straight points to demolish the Spiders, 41-3 to reclaim the Capital Cup for the first time in six years.
More importantly, thanks to a Delaware loss, the College clinched a share of the CAA regular season title, and the conference’s automatic playoff bid. The 2011 FCS National Championship bracket, which was released Sunday morning, has the College as the No. 2 overall seed, and will have a first round bye.
“We came in and played very, very well,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “We came to play, and once we started playing, we didn’t stop, we played it all the way out. Our guys deserve a heck of a lot of credit for the effort they put in today. They deserve it.”
With the exception of Richmond’s early field goal, the College appeared motivated by last weekend’s demoralizing loss to James Madison in which the Dukes ran all over the Tribe defense for 266 rushing yards. On this day, the College defense reasserted itself against an already weakened Spiders offense.
The Tribe held Richmond to 219 yards of total offense, with just 62 of those yards coming on the ground. Additionally, the College held Richmond quarterbacks John Laub and Montel White to 17 combined completions on 39 attempts, with Laub throwing an interception.
In stark contrast to the squad’s performance last Saturday in Harrisonburg, the College defense looked prepared, and played aggressively.
While the defense showed marked improvement, senior quarterback Mike Callahan and the Tribe offense displayed great consistency and even greater execution. Callahan, who was named the Capital Cup MVP after the game, looked nearly flawless throughout the majority of the contest. He began the game by completing his first 11 pass attempts, and finished with 17 completions on 22 attempts for 331 yards and 2 touchdowns.
‘We were playing against a very good statistical defense,” Laycock said. “They haven’t given up much all year. I have complete confidence in [Mike] Callahan. He made some decisions out there I didn’t agree with, but he took the aggressive approach, and I like that.”
Callahan spread the ball around effectively, as five Tribe receivers finished the game with 40 or more yards receiving. Sophomore wideout Ryan Moody appeared to be Callahan’s favorite target, as Moody had five receptions for 101 yards, including a 41-yard completion in the third quarter.
Callahan found senior wideout Chase Hill for a 23-yard strike in the second quarter, while sophomore tight end Alex Gottlieb corralled a beautiful 20-yard lob in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown late in the third quarter.
As well as Callahan played, the Tribe running back corps also played very well. In addition to being the Tribe’s second leading receiver with 86 receiving yards, junior tailback Jonathan Grimes added 73 rushing yards on 15 carries for a total of 176 all purpose yards.
As well as Grimes played, the day belonged to senior tailbacks Terrence Riggins and Courtland Marriner. Riggins led the College in rushing yards by gaining 78 yards on 10 carries, including a 40-yard scamper in the fourth quarter, while Marriner’s two touchdown scores in the first half helped break the game open for the College. Marriner finished with 60 yards on 10 carries. Overall, the College had five players rush for more than 20 yards, and the whole unit combined for 285 yards.
The Tribe will now take a week off, and await the winner of South Carolina State and Georgia Southern. For more on the College’s playoff positioning, see this blog post.
“At this stage, its good to keep playing and regroup and get some guys healthy,” Laycock said. “And even if we can’t get anybody back, its good for the guys who will be playing to get that week off.”