Football: Tribe opens season at Virginia (Live Blog)

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September 2, 2017

2:47 PM

It’s the first Saturday of college football season! Welcome to the inaugural Flat Hat Sports Live Blog, straight from Scott Stadium on grounds at the University of Virginia. The Tribe takes on the Cavaliers this afternoon with kickoff at 3:30pm. Make sure to keep checking this page for our thoughts and analysis as the game goes along.

Updated 3:09 : A few key questions that will help determine how the Tribe does this afternoon — who plays quarterback for the Tribe? Will they play multiple? Throughout all the preseason, head coach Jimmye Laycock ’70 has been tight-lipped about who will take the field as the starter at the position for the Tribe. Additionally, he seemed to suggest that the offense might feature multiple quarterbacks. Also, how will playcalling change? DJ Mangas ’12 was promoted to Offensive Coordinator from his role coaching the running backs for this season. The differences in tempo and style could very well have a big impact on the College’s offense this season.

The Tribe have retreated back to the locker room and Virginia isn’t far behind. We’ll be underway in a short time.

Updated 3:17 : An interesting pregame note was delivered to the press just now. Here’s the release:

When William and Mary takes the field (3:32) they will have a show of unity organized by the team’s players.

In the team’s words…

The expression represents our desire to make a positive statement about our shared beliefs in cultivating a society based on respect for people of all ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds and one that embraces unity, civility and loving one another despite our differences.”

Updated 3:36 : The Cavaliers take the field behind their mascot, and the Tribe follow right after. The Tribe locks arms facing away from the field in a show of solidarity during the coin toss. William and Mary wins the coin toss and chooses to defer. The Tribe kicks off and we’re underway!

Updated 3:39 : The Tribe defense causes a quick three and out, and it’s William and Mary ball at their own 34. Tommy McKee comes out to start the season at quarterback.

Updated 3:45 : Noah Giles, a freshman running back, comes out as the starter and has a couple nice carries for a first down. McKee completes his first pass on the next play, but the drive stalls at the UVA 47 yard-line. After a delay of game penalty, McKee, who doubles as the team’s punter, boots it and the Tribe coverage stops the returner at the Cavalier 20 yard-line. Hoos ball with 10:07 left in the first.

Of note: senior defensive captain and shutdown corner, Aaron Swinton, is in street clothes today.

Updated 3:56 : The Tribe defense gets a sack and a chance to force a punt on 3rd and long, but the Cavaliers pick up the first. Later on the drive, Virginia runs for 16 yards on their first big play of the game. A few more plays pass before Virginia passes for a 13 yard gain. On the play, the wide receiver fumbles, and the Tribe seem sure to have the ball, but the referee signals that UVA recovers. The Cavaliers continue to drive and eventually punch it in for a touchdown on a one-yard run to finish the 13-play, 80-yard drive. The extra point sails through and Virginia leads 7-0 with 4:27 to go in the first quarter.

The Cavaliers are getting their way on offense, killing the Tribe defense on quick passing plays. Tribe safety Corey Parker, a sophomore, leads the team in tackles so far with four.

Updated 4:05 : The Tribe offense somehow picks up a first down on third and three on an ugly passing play from McKee to junior Jack Armstrong, but the College still is looking to find their rhythm. A few plays later, on third and five, McKee overthrows a wide open DeVonte Dedmon and the Tribe is forced to punt again. The kick from McKee gets downed at the William and Mary 32 yard-line.

While Giles played most of the first series at running back, redshirt freshman Jaret Anderson got all three carries on the second series. It’ll be interesting to see how carries are allocated through the rest of the game.

Updated 4:09 : At the end of the first quarter, Virginia leads the Tribe 7-0. The Cavaliers are also outgaining the Tribe 88 yards to 34. The Tribe offense will have to find a spark if the Green and Gold want to gain some momentum back.

Updated 4:17 : A couple of good pass breakups by cornerbacks Denzel Dykes and Isaiah Laster stop the Virginia drive and the Cavaliers are forced to punt from the Tribe’s 46 yard-line. The Tribe defense has been good in stretches today. William and Mary starts their drive from their eight yard-line.

Updated 4:25 : After Giles runs for a first down, McKee overthrows Dedmon badly. Two plays later, he gets sacked for a loss of seven. McKee has not looked comfortable throwing the ball yet today. To be fair, neither has Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert, but it’s not a good sign for the Tribe.

So far, DJ Mangas’ playcalling has been very conservative. The vast majority of plays have been short passes or runs. Nine run plays have been called compared to six pass plays. Look for him to try to change things up to get the ball moving for the Tribe.

After a timeout, McKee punts for the third time. This one is returned to the William and Mary 43 yard-line. 9:56 to go in the second, still 7-0 Virginia.

Updated 4:30 : The Tribe defense has performed admirably, but just gave up a first down on third down and 15. They weren’t getting good pressure and eventually Virginia wideouts were wide open on the play.

Updated 4:34 : A few plays later, after a Virginia shot to the endzone was barely dropped, senior defensive end Matt Ahola takes down the Virginia running back after a pass in the backfield for a seven-yard loss on third down. Virginia misses a field goal attempt on the next play and the Tribe takes over at their own 25 yard-line.

Updated 4:37 : McKee runs for a first down, but the Tribe continue their pattern of picking up a first down then having to punt. McKee punts again, this time to the Virginia 30 yard-line.

Updated 4:44 : Virginia drives into Tribe territory again. On second and 10 from the 35 yard-line, Virginia running back Daniel Hamm fumbles again, but the Cavaliers recover this one as well. After a pass is batted down, Virginia goes for it on fourth down and nine. Benkert finds his man down the left sideline in the end zone for a touchdown. That one stings for the Tribe defense. Extra point is good and the Tribe trail 14-0 with 1:31 to go in the half.

Updated 4:49 : The Tribe goes three and out. Virginia calls timeout to preserve some time for their offense. McKee’s punt is a nice, high one. It’s a 42-yard punt. Virginia takes over at their 24 yard-line with 1:01 to go.

Updated 4:54 : Virginia can’t get anything going on offense on their final drive of the half, so they kneel it out. The Cavaliers lead 14-0 at the half.

Updated 5:10 : A few first-half observations: Tommy Mckee has not found his rhythm at the quarterback position. He’s had a rough day throwing the ball. DJ Mangas has accounted for that by calling very conservative plays — short dumpoffs and running plays. Noah Giles is having a relatively successful day running the ball for the Tribe, with eight carries for 33 yards. He has been the best part about the offense as of yet. Defensively, with the exception of a couple big plays running plays, the front seven has looked solid, combining for six tackles for loss. The secondary has played well in stretches, but have also given up a long touchdown pass.

Updated 5:12 : William and Mary receives the kickoff to start the second half and we’re back in action. The return by Dedmon is strong, out to the 31 yard-line where the Tribe offense trots back out.

Updated 5:18 : The Tribe finally gets their first big play of the game, as senior tight end Andrew Caskin breaks loose on a short crossing route for 28 yards down to the UVA 32 yard-line. After a seven-yard rush by Anderson, Virginia calls timeout to break the Tribe’s momentum.

Updated 5:22 : The Tribe get stopped on third and short in Virginia territory, but sophomore Kris Hooper knocks home the 41-yard field goal. Virginia leads 14-3 with 10:27 to go in the third quarter.

Updated 5:26 : Virginia kick returner Joe Reed brings the ensuing kickoff out all the way to the Cavaliers’ 44 yard-line. Then, on third and five, Reed picks up the first down and more with a 13 yard screen pass. Making an impact on this drive.

Updated 5:30 : The Cavaliers are starting to break things open on offense. A couple of big runs by Daniel Hamm are followed by a 17-yard touchdown pass by Benkert, his second of the day. Virginia gets the extra point to go despite a bad snap, and now leads 21-3 with 7:08 left in the third quarter.

Updated 5:36 : On the kickoff return Dedmon gets demolished and fumbles, but gets back on top of the ball. He does come back in the game a few plays later, however. Good news for the Tribe.

After a nice pass from McKee to Daniel Kuzjak, the Tribe have to punt yet again. This time McKee only hits a 12-yarder. It’s apparent that his positions as both quarterback and punter affect his punting game. It’s Virginia ball from midfield now.

Updated 5:40 : The Tribe defense again comes up with a big stop after an intentional grounding on Benkert puts the Cavaliers at second and 25. And after the punt goes out for a touchback, in comes quarterback Brandon Battle, a sophomore.

Updated 5:46 : Battle runs out of bounds for a sack on his first play at quarterback. After a short running play, Battle hits Caskin for nine, but it’s not enough to gain a first down. McKee runs back out on fourth down to punt, and hits it well, for a 41-yard punt. And with that, it’s the end of the third quarter. 21-3 Virginia heading into the last 15 minutes of regulation.

Updated 5:53 : After a nice Virginia drive, the Cavaliers go for it on fourth and five from the 29 yard-line. Benkert overthrows his man in the end zone and the Tribe takes over on downs. Time is running out for the College to make a comeback.

Updated 5:55 : And after all that, Tommy McKee is back in the game at quarterback for the Tribe.

Updated 6:03 : McKee runs for 25 yards. He’s been much more successful on the ground than through the air today. On the next set of downs, McKee picks up a fourth and five from the 40 of Virginia with his legs, rushing for 15. He follows that up with a nine-yard gain for another first down a few plays later. This is the best he’s looked all day, even if he still isn’t passing well.

On third and six from the Virginia 10 yard line, Dedmon makes a catch in the back of the end zone but is ruled out of bounds. The call is confirmed via replay. On fourth down, McKee picks up the first down on yet another scramble. First and goal from the two.

Updated 6:08 : McKee runs it in from two yards out on first and goal. That was the Tribe’s best drive of the game, completely driven by McKee’s runs. Hooper makes the extra point and the score is 21-10 Virginia with 6:52 left in regulation.

Updated 6:15 : The Tribe defense gets a crucial stop to keep the College in the game. After a booming punt, Dedmon muffs the kick but recovers after it’s kicked around. The Tribe takes over at their own four yard-line.

Updated 6:19 : McKee tries to find Caskin over the middle, but the ball deflects off Caskin, as he gets blown up on the play, to a waiting Virginia defender. It’s the first turnover of the game and comes at a crucially bad time for the Tribe, who still trail by 11 with 4:28 to go.

Updated 6:24 : Virginia scores on the drive after the turnover. On fourth down from the two, Benkert passes for his third touchdown of the day. This one’s just about over, with only 55 seconds to go.

Updated 6:28 : McKee hands this one off a couple of times to sophomore running back Brehon Britt and this one’s over. William and Mary falls in their opening matchup of the season to Virginia, 28-10.

Updated 6:36 : A couple of observations to wrap things up: McKee ended up having a relatively good game. He only completed six passes but ended up as the leading rusher for either team in the game, with 89 yards and a touchdown. We did see Brandon Battle replace him for one series, but after McKee returned, he very much looked like he belonged as the starter. Will he be able to keep that up? We’ll see as the season goes along.

Corey Parker had a great game from the safety position, leading the team in tackles with 13. He also had a tackle for loss. Overall, the defense played about as well as you could expect.

The Tribe receiving corps is dynamic, but DJ Mangas has to find different ways to get the ball in his guys’ hands. Expect to see more screens and short dumpoffs over the next few weeks.

Updated 6:41 : That’s a wrap from Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia on the grounds of the University of Virginia, where the William and Mary Tribe fall to the Virginia Cavaliers, 28-10. The Tribe travels to Norfolk State next Saturday to take on the Spartans. Make sure to find today’s game recap in The Flat Hat, distributed on Tuesday, or online at FlatHatNews.com.

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  • Brendan Doyle

Brendan Doyle '20 serves as Opinions Editor and hails from Centreville, Virginia. He also contributes for News, Sports and Online and formerly served as Associate Sports Editor.