He may be a true freshman, but Johnathan Grimes sure doesn’t look the part.
The running back tallied the College of William and Mary’s first two scores of its 42-12 thrashing of Norfolk State University Saturday night, with a rushing touchdown of 38 yards and a receiving TD of 20 yards.
“I think he plays well beyond his years,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “He doesn’t try to make cuts or do things that aren’t there.
“I think he’s a very mature player.”
The win brings the Tribe’s record to 2-1.
After Grimes got the ball rolling, the onslaught was on, as junior safety David Caldwell recovered a blocked field goal late in the second quarter and returned it 56 yards for the touchdown, giving the Tribe a comfortable 21-3 lead going into the break.
“Once I saw the open field, I just decided to take off,” Caldwell said. “I picked up a couple of great blocks. The last one was by [senior cornerback Derek Cox]. He took care of the kicker.”
Caldwell was so excited about his score that he somersaulted into the end zone, drawing a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty.
“I was really excited, so I had to get a little dive in there,” he said. “I’m going to have to do some up-downs for that. But it might be worth it, we’ll see.”
Senior quarterback Jake Phillips weathered a spotty first half and came out firing in the second, connecting on three TD passes on his way to a 204-yard, four-TD, two-INT performance.
The Tribe defense looked sharp for the third consecutive week, holding the Spartans to 219 yards of total offense. The unit repeatedly put pressure on the Spartans’ quarterbacks and caused a total of five turnovers.
“We want to force the action. When we [did that] we looked pretty good,” Laycock said. “When we were forcing turnovers, putting pressure on the quarterback, forcing them to rush throws [and] trying to knock the ball loose, I thought we did pretty well.”
Sophomore cornerback Ben Cottingham recorded an interception in the first half, and Cox added a pick of his own, when he stole one out of the Spartans’ end zone and returned it up to the Tribe’s 36-yard line.
Grimes finished the game with 71 yards on nine carries, and now has four total touchdowns on the year. His strong play is particularly impressive given that he began the season as fourth on the depth chart. The Tribe may need him even more in the coming weeks. Both senior DeBrian Holmes (seven yards on six carries) and sophomore Courtland Marriner (four yards on six carries, one fumble lost) are still not 100 percent after being injured in the preseason, and sophomore Terrence Riggins (30 yards on four carries) tweaked an ankle in Saturday’s contest.
If the coaches continue to call upon him, however, he’ll be prepared.
“You’ve got to be ready to roll with the punches,” Grimes said. “You’ve got to be ready for everything.”
After their first quarter field goal, the Spartans’ lone touchdown came on a one-yard run by DeAngelo Branche. They reached their final total of 12 on a fourth-quarter safety.
Junior wideout D.J. McAulay finished the game with two touchdown grabs (his fourth and fifth of the season) and a total of 80 yards. Phillips’ four TD pass pushed his season total to eight. Senior receiver Elliot Mack led the Tribe in catches (four) and racked up 63 yards.