Tribe falls to Virginia in only FBS matchup of season, 27-13

The following article was previously published on The Flat Hat’s website during the week of Oct. 9. However, due to an unforeseen technological glitch, it was removed from the website for a period of time and was re-uploaded today, Nov. 6.

Saturday, Oct. 7, William and Mary football (4-2, 2-1 CAA) lost a hardfought, out-of- conference matchup against University of Virginia (1-5, 0-2 ACC) 27-13 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va.

The Tribe traveled to Charlottesville on Saturday for the team’s only FBS matchup of the season, hoping to take down a Virginia team on the road that started off the season with five straight losses.

With Tribe fans flocking to Scott Stadium, William and Mary looked to defeat the neighboring Cavaliers for the first time since 2009.

After winning the coin toss and deferring the opening kick, the Tribe defense took the field looking to suppress UVA senior quarterback Tony Muskett and a dangerous UVA offense. Following a seven-yard rush from UVA senior running back Kobe Pace, Tribe senior defensive lineman Nate Lynn and junior outside linebacker John Pius responded with a menacing sack, forcing a loss of 10 yards and an intimidating fourth-and-13 situation for UVA. After a 32 yard punt, William and Mary’s offense took the field with optimal field position at its opponent 44-yard line.

Coming off of a loss to Elon the week before, the Tribe offense looked determined to cement a solid lead from the get-go on Saturday. Junior running back Malachi Imoh got the drive started with a shifty nine yard rush, which he then followed up with a five yard reception to move the chains for the Tribe. After gains from junior quarterback Hollis Mathis and redshirt freshman wide receiver Carson Jenkins, senior kicker Caden Bonoffski connected on his first field goal of the day from 38 yards out to put the Tribe up 3-0.

UVA was quick to respond. Starting at its 31, the Cavaliers pushed down the field largely thanks to a 17 yard rush from sixth-year running back Perris Jones. After a seven yard completion from Muskett and another seven yard rush from Pace, sophomore kicker Will Bettridge lined-up and drilled a 45-yard field goal, evening the game at 3-3.

The Tribe offense kept its foot on the gas on the ensuing possession. Junior quarterback Darius Wilson attacked the Cavalier offense on the ground, rushing for 22 yards combined in two of the Tribe’s first plays of the drive. After a UVA personal foul and two Wilson and Imoh empty rush attempts, Bonoffski took the field again, this time from 48 yards out. Bonoffski, who has not missed a kick since the Tribe’s opening win against Campbell, drilled the field goal to set a new season long and put William and Mary back on top with just over a minute left in the quarter.

As the second quarter began, the Tribe defense wreaked havoc on the Cavaliers. After back-to-back penalties from both teams, Pius forced, recovered and returned a Muskett fumble for 57 yards to the Cavalier four-yard line.

The Tribe went back to the run game, this time utilizing Mathis and sophomore running back Martin Lucas on the carries. After three attempts at the goal line, Lucas finally found a gap to secure William and Mary’s first and only touchdown of the day. Bonoffski converted the extra point, and with just over 12 minutes left in the half, the Tribe held a commanding 13-3 lead over UVA.

Muskett, looking to bounce back from his score-allowing fumble the drive before, turned to his receivers for some much needed offensive production. In the first play of the drive, Muskett recorded a completion to junior wide receiver Malachi Fields for a 22 yard gain. Immediately after, Muskett completed a 17 yard pass to senior tight end Sackett Wood Jr., securing another Cavalier first down at the Tribe 27-yard line. After an incompletion and a 12 yard rush from Jones, Muskett returned to his run, this time finding the endzone. After a made extra point, the Cavaliers closed the gap to three, and with nine minutes, thirty seconds left in the second, the Tribe took control of the ball again.

Unlike its last offensive drive, the Tribe found limited success on the field this time.

After a quick three-and-out, UVA’s offense took the field again. Two plays after a 17- yard completion to graduate student wide receiver Malik Washington and a Cavalier first down, Muskett unleashed a 42-yard bomb to Washington again, pushing the UVA offense to the Tribe 15-yard line. Despite a seven yard run from Pace, the Green and Gold defense was able to limit UVA’s damage to just a field goal, evening the score at 13- 13, with less than three minutes left to play.

After two three-and-outs from William and Mary and one from UVA, the Cavaliers’s offense took the field for its final time of the half with just 55 seconds left to play. Pace started the drive with another monster run, this time for 18 yards, while securing a commanding UVA first down. Immediately after the run, Muskett connected with freshman wide receiver Jaden Gibson for 16 more yards. After a 10 yard gain on the ground, Muskett found Washington for a quick nine yard gain, leaving just 11 seconds on the clock. From the 26-yard line, Muskett connected with Fields again for his first passing touchdown of the game, and with just seven seconds left in the half, UVA pulled ahead by seven.

In a matter of minutes, William and Mary found itself behind, after leading by 10 just minutes before.

The Tribe’s offense went silent in the third. In its two offensive possessions, the Green and Gold went three-and-out and failed to convert on a fourth-and-two at the UVA eight- yard line. Luckily, its defense kept the game close. In its first offensive possession of the half, the Cavaliers came out strong, marching down the field leading to the Tribe’s 15-yard line. On a third-and-11, Muskett’s pass was broken up by senior cornerback Ryan Poole and intercepted by senior defensive back Malcolm Spencer, preventing a UVA score and preserving the lead to just seven going into the final 15 minutes.

UVA started the fourth quarter eager to put away the visiting Tribe. After converting two fourth-down attempts, Muskett connected with Washington again for another UVA touchdown, this time from 27 yards out. Bettridge drilled the extra point, and with just over 11 minutes left in the game, the Tribe found itself down 27-13 with time winding down. The Tribe offense looked to respond, but despite two more solid runs and a few short completions from Wilson, William and Mary’s progress halted on a fourth-and-four at the UVA 23-yard line with just under five minutes to play. UVA held the ball as the clock ran out, and as the game came to an end, the Cavaliers walked away with its first win of the season.

The Tribe was outmatched in almost every offensive statistic, including total rushing and passing yards (221 vs 147 and 232 vs. 72), first downs (27 vs. 15) and average yard per play (6.4 vs. 3.8).

Wilson finished Saturday’s game going 14-18 for 72 passing yards while rushing for a team-leading 74 yards. Mathis followed second in rushing yards, recording 44, while Lucas secured the Tribe’s only touchdown of the day.

William and Mary will look to right the ship Saturday, Oct. 21 against CAA opponent Towson (2- 4, 1-2 CAA) at Zable Stadium in Williamsburg, Va.


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