Jimmye Laycock couldn’t contain his glee, and who could blame him?
“When’s the last time William & Mary was 9-1?” Laycock asked color analyst Bob Sheeran following the fifth-ranked Tribe’s dramatic 20-17 victory over seventh-ranked New Hampshire on Nov. 14 at Zable Stadium.
The answer: before you were born, coach.
Senior kicker Brian Pate booted a 37-yard field goal with 2:54 to play to provide the winning margin in what turned out to be a taut defensive struggle on Senior Day. The victory enabled the fifth-ranked Tribe to improve to 9-1, with one regular-season game remaining, Saturday at defending national champion Richmond.
Kickoff is at noon.
Win or lose Saturday – and the Tribe can win the Colonial Athletic Association title outright with a victory over the Spiders and a Villanova loss to Delaware -- it’s safe now to look ahead to the postseason. The Athletic Department has announced that playoff tickets are now available for purchase. W&M's first-round opponent, site and time will be announced by the NCAA this Sunday.
“I thought with eight wins, we probably assured ourselves (a spot) last week, and then I started thinking, 'I don't know,' “ Laycock said. “You just don't know. But now I think I do know. We will be playing over Thanksgiving.”
The College’s defensive unit posted another outstanding performance and limited the Wildcats to just 226 yards of total offense, 147 fewer than its average entering the contest. It marked the fifth time this season that W&M has held the opposition to 100 fewer yards than its average. W&M also limited UNH to just 27 rushing yards on 24 carries (1.1 yards per rush), 141 fewer yards than UNH’s average entering the contest.
Individually, All-American senior defensive end Adrian Tracy recorded a team-high seven tackles with a pair of sacks and three tackles for a loss. Senior defensive tackle Sean Lissemore also came up big with five tackles and an interception, while redshirt freshman cornerback B.W. Webb earned his team-leading fifth interception of the season.
On the offensive side, sophomore running back Jonathan Grimes totaled a game-high 136 yards rushing, while junior tailback Courtland Marriner and junior wide receiver Chase Hill both found the end zone.
After Pate’s go-ahead field goal with 2:54 showing, the Tribe’s defense did not allow another UNH first down. The Wildcats managed just two yards on its first three plays, and junior defensive tackle Mike Stover broke up Toman’s fourth down pass near the line of scrimmage. W&M then rushed for a pair of first downs and ran out the clock to preserve the win.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Lissemore, whose interception ended a Wildcats drive early in the fourth quarter. “We knew it was going to be a fight, and we were in it for the long haul.”
The Tribe finished the regular season with a 5-0 home record, the first time since 2004 that W&M has posted an undefeated regular-season mark at Zable Stadium.
The good news? There well may be another home game or two, and soon.
“I don't think we're satisfied as whole,” said Tracy. “There's something still out there we want. We're still hungry. We're still striving for it.”