In a game where very few pundits gave William and Mary a fighting chance against the No. 4 team in the nation, the Tribe crushed Villanova 31-18 to move to 6-2 on the year and make a statement about the trajectory of the College’s football program.
The Tribe outgained the Wildcats 367-291 and 258-39 on the ground in a game that was not nearly as close as the scoreboard leads one to believe. After an opening Wildcat field goal, the Tribe scored 31 unanswered points to blow the doors off the game and coast smoothly into the victory. The explosion started with a 23-yard rush from redshirt freshman wide receiver JT Mayo. An field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Ethan Chang followed by a one-yard sneak from freshman quarterback Darius Wilson sent the game into halftime with a 14-point Tribe advantage, 17-3.
The momentum continued for the College coming out of the intermission, with two-yard touchdown runs from junior running back Bronson Yoder and redshirt freshman running back Malachi Imoh putting the final nail in the coffin, the scoreboard reading 31-3 with 11:16 remaining in the game. Two Wildcat touchdowns in that span led to the less emblematic 31-18 final.
Tribe head coach Mike London heaped the praise on his players following the statement win.
“What a great win for everyone associated with this program,” London said. “To go on the road and play such a tough, gifted team … God is good, man. It’s amazing to see the resiliency of this team over the course of this season.”
London also stressed the importance of keeping focused, celebrating the accomplishment but recognizing there are still more games and hopes for the season on the horizon.
“It’s all about trying to win games to stay relevant,” London said. “We’ll enjoy it for a little bit, but we have to move on and get ready for the next one because they’re all good in the CAA. We’re excited about the challenges that are in front of us.”
The College had not defeated a Top-Five CAA team since 2010 and was projected to be an underdog by as many as 15 points going into the clash.
The magnitude of the game was not lost on many members of the Tribe. Sixth-year senior linebacker Tyler Crist reflected on the significance after the game.
“I’ve been around for a couple of years, and we’ve had some games that haven’t gone our way and some seasons that haven’t gone our way,” Crist said. “So to beat a team like this and the way we did, words can’t express it. It’s awesome.”
Offensively, the running game shone strong, with Yoder amassing 106 yards on 25 carries, Imoh adding 67 and Wilson contributing 37 from the quarterback position. London was complimentary of the balanced effort after the game.
“When our offense is on the field, we have opportunities for guys like Donavyn Lester and Malachi Imoh and Bronson Yoder to carry the ball and score for us,” London said. “It’s a big deal, particularly when you’re scoring points, to have the time of possession. That was a positive thing for us today.”
The defense mirrored the offensive effort, showing out by limiting the Wildcats to just 39 rushing yards on the day.
“Our defense had a field day,” Crist said. “Our defense is really, really good. … We’ve got something special going on.”
The Tribe will return to action on Nov. 6 when it takes on Delaware on the road. The game will be broadcast on FloSports and will kick off at 1 p.m.