Tribe 20, Richmond 23 (OT)
Trailing 20-0 at halftime, the College of William and Mary put together a comeback that nearly made its way into Tribe football lore.
Unfortunately, the team didn’t come back quite far enough.
The Tribe’s furious 17-point fourth quarter rally came up just short Saturday afternoon, as an overtime field goal gave the University of Richmond a 23-20 victory.
“Well first of all I thought it was a heck of a comeback,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “I thought our guys rallied back and really showed a lot of resolve.
“We wanted to put ourselves in a situation where we could get into overtime and see what happens,” he said. “They make it, we don’t. That’s what it comes down to.”
The Spiders are now all but assured a playoff berth, while the Tribe is unlikely to receive an at-large selection.
Down by 14 points with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Tribe scored two touchdowns before the end of regulation to force overtime.
The first of the two touchdowns came on a 80-yard punt return by senior cornerback Derek Cox. Laycock then elected to try for an onsides kick, and after junior kicker Brian Pate executed one to perfection, junior quarterback/wide receiver R.J. Archer leapt through the air to come down with it.
Senior quarterback Jake Phillips – after suffering through what Laycock described as a “nightmare first half” during which Phillips threw four interceptions – led a game-tying, 10-play, 59-yard drive that he capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run of his own.
“I told him at halftime, ‘You ain’t going to play any worse,’” Laycock said. “‘So you’ve got nothing to worry about, just go after it and keep going.’ And he did.”
The Spiders won the coin toss in overtime and elected to have the Tribe go on offense first. On a 3rd and 8 play, Phillips threw to sophomore wideout Chase Hill on a 10-yard pass that was ruled incomplete. However, replays indicated that Hill did catch the pass and only lost control after hitting the ground, which, if true, would have generated a completed pass, down by contact ruling, giving the Tribe a first down.
Instead, the Tribe was forced to kick a field goal on fourth down, and Richmond defensive end Sherman Logan blocked Pate’s attempt.
Richmond ran three short running plays before Andrew Howard split the uprights with a 37-yarder to win the game.
Phillips, playing in what is possibly his final collegiate game (barring a surprise selection Sunday to the NCAA FCS Tournament), finished with 20 of 46 passing with six interceptions and zero touchdowns.
“It was tough in the first half,” Phillips said. “At halftime we said ‘we’re just going to keep throwing punches until the last minute.’ I’m just so proud to be a part of a team that’s fought through that adversity all year.”
The College’s defense kept the team in the game, coming up with stop after stop on critical third down plays, despite being put in tough situations all game long. Junior defensive end Adrian Tracy led the Tribe with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
“I thought our defense rose to the occasion and played extremely well,” Laycock said.
The College will now have to hope for one of the tournament’s at-large bids, which will be announced Sunday night at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. While it is considered by many to be unlikely that the Tribe will receive one, Laycock still made a case for his team’s inclusion in the tournament.
“We’ve beaten everybody that’s been even with us or below us, and we’ve lost to North Carolina State and we’ve lost to three top ten teams,” Laycock said. “[But] I think it’s a long shot.”