Fifth-ranked William & Mary’s 27-15 victory at Norfolk State Saturday wasn’t as close as the score would indicate, and wasn’t as satisfying as the Tribe coaches and players would have liked.
The Tribe, 3-0 for the first time since 1998, received two first-place votes Monday afternoon in the Sports Network-FCS Top-25 poll. They led NSU, 21-0, at the half and 27-0 at the start of the fourth quarter. But after giving starting quarterback R.J. Archer the rest of the night off, W&M went scoreless in the final frame while the Spartans scored 15.
“We’re in a situation where we could put them away and we really didn’t, so we’re going to work on that, I’m sure, this upcoming week,” Tribe senior safety David Caldwell told the Newport News Daily Press. “Now that we’re getting into conference play, a lot of games are going to come down to the fourth quarter.”
Archer, who nursed a leg injury all week and wore a brace on his left knee, didn’t appear hindered in the least. The senior from Earlysville, Pa., completed 15 of 20 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was ready to go, like any other game,” said Archer, who was hurt late in the team’s victory over Central Connecticut State. “I was fine. I just put the brace on for precautionary measures.”
Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock agreed.
“If I could have scripted that, as far as what we could do with R.J., that’s what I would have done,” Laycock said following the 192nd victory of his illustrious career with the Tribe. “He came out of this one OK, and he’ll be even better next week.”
As important to the Tribe as Archer was the W&M running attack. Three tailbacks carried 33 times for 176 yards, as W&M often seemed content to work the clock against its Norfolk-based foe.
Defensively, the Tribe dominated, holding the Spartans (1-2) scoreless until late in the fourth quarter. NSU was limited to just 216 yards total offense, 39 rushing. Not surprisingly, W&M controlled the ball for nearly 38 minutes.
Other offensive stars for the Tribe include senior wide receiver D.J. McAulay, who caught a game-high six catches for 74 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Senior tight end Rob Varno added five catches for 36 yards.
Sophomore tailback Jonathan Grimes led all rushers with 73 yards on 14 carries. Grimes also caught two passes for 28 yards and scored a touchdown. Junior running back Terrence Riggins also came up big with 68 yards rushing on 12 carries (5.7 yards per rush).
The Tribe returns to Zable Stadium Saturday night at 7 for one of their most important games of the year – the CAA opener against Delaware.
The Blue Hens, one of the FCS’ traditional powerhouses, are led by Penn State transfer Pat Devlin at quarterback.
Delaware leads the all-time series, 20-13. The Tribe holds a 9-8 advantage at home.