Great football season for the Tribe comes to an end

  • Jonathan GrimesJunior running back Jonathan Grimes led the Tribe offensively with 100 rushing yards on 14 carries (7.1 ypc), as he notched his third 100-yard rushing performance of the season.

    Photo by Bob Keroack

    Jonathan Grimes
  • Evan FrancksSenior linebacker Evan Francks makes a 48-yard, second quarter INT return for a score.

    Photo by Guy Crittenden

    Evan Francks

The fourth-ranked and second-seeded William and Mary football team fell to No. 20/22 Georgia Southern, 31-15, in the second round of the NCAA Playoffs on Saturday afternoon at Zable Stadium.

The loss snapped W&M’s (8-4, 6-2) 11-game home winning streak, as the Tribe last lost at Zable Stadium in the 2008 season finale against Richmond.

Georgia Southern (9-4, 5-3) utilized at balanced rushing attack, as four players rushed for at least 60 yards and the squad combined to total 423 yards on the ground. It marked the most rushing yards recorded against the Tribe since Furman posted 509 in 1999.

Junior running back Jonathan Grimes led the Tribe offensively with 100 rushing yards on 14 carries (7.1 ypc), as he notched his third 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Dante Cook equaled a career high with 16 stops (10 solo), while senior linebacker Evan Francks returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown.

After forcing W&M to a three-and-out on the contest’s opening possession, the Eagles got on the scoreboard first with a 6-yard touchdown run by Robert Brown. Brown provided all 61 yards on the drive (on four carries) en route to totaling a 178 yards on the ground.

The College answered with field goal on the ensuing drive, as redshirt freshman Drake Kuhn’s 32-yard kick capped off a nine-play, 45-yard drive that was highlighted by a 29-yard run by Grimes.

Kuhn finished off W&M’s next drive with another field goal (36 yards) to cut the deficit to 7-6 late in the first quarter. A 26-yard run by senior quarterback Mike Callahan helped set up the score.

Georgia Southern extended the lead to 14-6 on a 1-yard run by quarterback Jaybo Shaw with 9:27 showing in the second quarter.

A 48-yard interception return by Francks with 6:25 remaining in the second quarter cut the margin to 14-12, but W&M was unable to convert the two-point conversion. The pick-six was the fourth by the Tribe this season.

After holding GSU to a three-and-out on its next possession, the Tribe took its first lead of the game, 15-14, on a 33-yard field goal by Kuhn, his third successful kick of the half.

Georgia Southern retook the lead, 21-15, when Shaw punctuated the opening drive of the second half with an 18-yard touchdown run. A 44-yard scamper by Darreion Robinson highlighted the four-play, 81-yard scoring drive.

After forcing a punt on the College’s initial possession of the second half, GSU’s Adrian Mora kicked a 21-yard field goal to put the Eagles ahead, 24-15.

W&M appeared to be in position to cut the gap when Callahan connected on a 44-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Ryan Moody at GSU’s 8-yard line, but the play was called back because of holding.

Shaw’s third rushing touchdown of the game, a 3-yard carry with 11:26 remaining, proved to be the contest’s final score. The pivotal 13-play drive consumed 7:36.

The Tribe marched to GSU’s 20-yard line on its next possession, but the drive stalled when Callahan was sacked on fourth-and-5 with 5:49 remaining. GSU then picked up three first downs and was able to run out the clock.