Saturday, Nov. 4, no. 24 William and Mary (5-4, 3-3 CAA) fell on the road to no. 23 Albany (7-3, 4-1 CAA) 24-8 at Casey Stadium in Albany, N.Y.
The Tribe falls deeper into its recent skid, with Saturday’s loss marking the team’s fourth in the last five games.
After escaping with an exciting home win against Monmouth the week before, the Green and Gold looked to right the ship in Albany heading into the final three weeks of the regular season. William and Mary, who entered Saturday’s game ranked 24th in the FCS, will most likely be pushed out of the playoff picture following its loss against the Great Danes.
Saturday’s game immediately began on the wrong foot. The Great Danes scored within 90 seconds of starting its initial drive after back-to-back 37-yard completions from Albany sophomore quarterback Reese Poffenbarger. Finishing the game with 205 passing yards, Poffenbarger torched the Tribe defense all game, and his punch-in-the-mouth first drive forced the Tribe onto its heels before the offense even took the field.
The Green and Gold’s offense was stagnant all game. On 32 attempts, the Tribe only managed to rush for 45 net yards. On the passing side, junior quarterback Darius Wilson finished 14-21 with 171 passing yards, racking up two interceptions along the way.
The rest of the first quarter was quiet, as both teams punted following empty offensive drives. After an early William and Mary punt in the second, the Great Danes marched downfield once again. Highlighted by three more Poffenbarger completions and a 19-yard run by freshman running back Griffin Woodell, Albany concluded its drive with a 42-yard field goal, extending its lead to 10-0 with just over eight minutes left in the half.
The Tribe failed to respond, but after a solid defensive possession resulting in an Albany punt, the Green and Gold had another chance to finally put some points on the board.
However, Albany’s secondary had other ideas. After a promising 10-yard completion to junior wide receiver JT Mayo, Wilson was picked off by Great Dane junior defensive back Aamir Hall, who returned it 45-yards for a touchdown.
Despite getting the ball right back, the Green and Gold came up empty yet again, and went into the locker room down 17-0 with 30 minutes left to fight back.
The third quarter saw no scoring. After a timely interception in the endzone by senior defensive back Malcolm Spencer, the Tribe barreled down the field, getting to the Albany one before being stopped on a fourth-and-one rush attempt.
The beginning of the fourth began with similar luck, as the Tribe continued punting until the Great Danes gained possession with just over 10 minutes left in the game. After a 14-yard completion and a 22-yard rush from Poffenbarger, Woodell took over, rushing for 23 yards over three carries resulting in yet another Albany touchdown.
Now down 24-0, the Green and Gold realized time was running out. With the offense back on the field, Wilson wasted no time making up big yards, connecting with junior quarterback Hollis Mathis for a 34-yard completion. After another completion, Wilson took matters into his own hands, rushing 20-yards on a Tribe fourth-and-13 for the Tribe’s first touchdown of the game. Wilson found the endzone again on the two-point conversion, but it was far too little too late.
Albany let the clock rundown, and as the fourth quarter came to an end, William and Mary suffered its third conference loss of the season.
With just two regular season games left to play, the pressure on the Tribe has never been higher as it looks to secure a much-needed win in next week’s matchup against Hampton on Nov. 11 in Hampton, Va.