Football: Tribe rocked by Cavaliers, 52-17

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COURTESY IMAGE / TRIBE ATHLETICS

Friday evening in Charlottesville, Virginia, William and Mary (1-1) came up short against a tough Virginia (2-0) squad, 52-17. The game pitted two in-state rivals, both of which had won their Week One matchups, with the Cavaliers having defeated Pittsburgh last Saturday 30-14. The matchup also marked the return of head coach Mike London to Scott Stadium. The Tribe’s first-year coach previously led the Cavaliers from 2010 to 2015.  

Coming off a momentum-building win at home against Lafayette last Saturday, the Tribe looked poised to challenge the Cavaliers and become just the second Football Championship Subdivision team to knock off a Football Bowl Subdivision squad this season in this battle of in-state rivals. Ten years ago, the Tribe thundered into Scott Stadium and shocked the Cavaliers with a score of 26-14, backed by B.W. Webb’s ’13 three interceptions. That victory, still fresh on the minds of some savvy alumni, was hopefully a preview of Friday night’s festivities. 

However, the Cavaliers came out swinging in the first half, scoring 35 points right away. After gaining a school record 127 yards on the ground last week, freshman quarterback and reigning Colonial Athletic Association rookie of the week Hollis Mathis struggled throughout the night, failing to complete a pass and rushing for just 10 yards. Despite multiple talented quarterbacks, the Tribe has yet to find a consistent starter, with multiple players splitting time under center.  

While Williamsburg was left relatively unscathed by Hurricane Dorian, the Tribe endured a storm of their own on Friday: the Cavalier offense. The Cavaliers racked up 511 total yards of offense including 216 rushing yards. The Cavaliers offense went the entire game without punting as well, and scored 28 points on their opening four drives. That quickly put the Tribe in a hole and built a virtually insurmountable lead. A 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by wide receiver Joe Reed put the Cavaliers up 35-3 with just under nine minutes to play in the second quarter, essentially squandering all hope of a Tribe upset. 

Quarterback Kilton Anderson came off the bench and gave the Tribe offense some muchneeded support, racking up 103 yards through the air on four of eight passing. Like Mathis, the senior transfer from Coastal Carolina will continue to search for playing time in offensive coordinator Brennan Marion’s new “GoGo” offense. Senior running back Albert Funderburke led in the ground game with 50 yards rushing. The high-powered Tribe offense finished the game strong, scoring 14 points in the second half, just three points behind the Cavaliers.   

The Tribe defense, despite surrendering 52 points, forced four turnovers on the night against a very good Cavaliers offense that will certainly make an impact in the Athletic Coast Conference this season. Senior linebacker Arman Jones led the squad with eight tackles and an interception that was returned 47 yards for a touchdown in the second half. So far, the Tribe defense has forced eight turnovers in just two games on the year. 

Up next, the Tribe will return home to Zable Stadium to host Colgate, which currently sits at 0-2 on the season. The Raiders defeated the Tribe 23-0 at home last season on Parents Weekend, and the Tribe will look to bounce back from a tough defeat when they face off against the Raiders. This will be the third non-conference game of the 2019 slate, with the Tribe headed back out on the road next weekend against a second FBS opponent, East Carolina. That precedes the beginning of Colonial Athletic Association play with a road showdown against Albany Sept. 28.