Football: New pecking order

When the University of Delaware saw the College of William and Mary was its 2008 homecoming opponent at the start of the 2008 season, the contest was no doubt viewed as a cupcake win for a program expected to challenge for a conference title.

After 60 minutes, however, it was the Tribe who had firmly established itself as a legitimate CAA contender, as the College rode a dominant defensive effort and a strong first half to an impressive 27-3 road victory.

“I thought our guys came to play on both sides of the ball and played hard,” Head Coach Jimmye
Laycock said. “It was a real good win for us to be able to go up there and beat them.”

The Tribe utilized lengthy scoring drives of 93 and 71 yards to take a 13-0 lead into the break, as junior kicker Brian Pate sandwiched field goals of 32 and 33 yards around a one-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Jake Phillips.

In the second half, after a tense third quarter, the College iced the victory; Phillips hit sophomore wideout Chase Hill for a 44-yard touchdown strike, before freshman tailback Jonathan Grimes punctuated the victory with a two-yard rushing touchdown.

Phillips was excellent for the second straight week, completing 26 of 38 passes for 338 yards and a score, while throwing one interception and rushing for the first-half touchdown.

“One of our goals was starting early [on offense],” senior wide receiver Elliott Mack said. “We wanted to come out and be explosive from the start.”

Defensively, the College completely shut down the Delaware offense, limiting the Blue Hens to a mere 145 total yards while allowing only 45 through the air. The Tribe recorded 11 tackles for loss with senior linebacker Josh Rutter notching three of those stops, coupled with a crucial interception.

After the Tribe went ahead 3-0 on the strength of a Pate field goal to cap its first offensive possession,
the Blue Hens responded by marching downfield inside the College’s 20-yard line before missing a 35-yard field goal. Delaware did not enter Tribe territory again for the remainder of the half, as the College’s defense repeatedly hurried quarterback Robby Schoenhoft while shutting down the Blue Hen rushing attack.

After the teams traded six straight punts to open the second half, Delaware looked for an opportunity to get back into the game as defensive back Anthony Walters picked off Phillips at midfield with 4:24 remaining in the third quarter. Despite this, Rutter responded by intercepting a Schoenhoft pass on the very next play, blunting any Delaware momentum. Rutter injured his foot on the play and is expected to miss two to three weeks of play.

Eight minutes later, another Tribe turnover set up the Blue Hens again, as junior safety David Caldwell was hit by a Delaware punt. Blue Hen senior Johnathan Smith fell on the ball at the College’s 15-yard line, with his team still trailing by 13. However, the Tribe defense again stood firm, allowing Delaware only three yards on the drive and forcing a field goal which cut the margin to 13-3.

“That was a point of emphasis, when something happens we just have to go out there and stand up and put up a front as best we can,” junior defensive end Adrian Tracy said. “This week was big as the past few weeks we had gotten away from that.”

On the ensuing Tribe possession, Phillips took a mere four plays to march his team into the end zone, culminating in his 44-yard touchdown to Hill, expanding the margin to 20-3.

After a Delaware punt, the Tribe sealed the win with a nine-play, 93-yard touchdown drive, ending with a two-yard Grimes touchdown run. This sent the Delaware fans streaming for the exits early and the College
home with a crucial conference win.

“We’ve been able to win on the road, now we’ve got to win at home and sustain this drive in the thick of our season,” Tracy said.

The Tribe hosts Rhode Island University Saturday at 1 p.m.


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