Tribe upends UVA 26-14 in football opener
26-14 victory at Virginia in both teams' season opener on Saturday evening.
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The victory -- the Tribe's first against an FBS opponent (formerly Division I-A) since defeating Temple, 45-38, in 1998 -- has grabbed the attention of news outlets and Tribe fans alike. Tribe Athletics has produced a video feature of the game.
W&M's defensive effort was outstanding all night long, as it caused seven turnovers and held the Cavaliers scoreless in the second half. Additionally, the Tribe limited Virginia to just 269 yards of total offense and 12 first downs, with just 79 yards and four first downs coming in the second half. Additionally, the College dominated the time of possession, winning the battle by nearly 15 minutes (37:18-22:42).
In addition to Webb's outstanding collegiate debut, a number of other Tribe players on the defensive side posted good performances. Sophomore linebacker Jake Trantin finished with a game-high 11 tackles (7 solo) to go with two tackles for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery, while senior All-American defensive end Adrian Tracy recorded 10 tackles (8 solo). Junior linebacker Evan Francks also came up big with a pair of fumble recoveries and two tackles for a loss.
A native of the Charlottesville area, senior quarterback R.J. Archer threw for 184 yards with a touchdown, while rushing for 46 yards on nine attempts. Led by senior wideout D.J. McAulay's five catches for 51 yards, seven Tribe players totaled at least two receptions.
After a three-and-out on the Tribe's opening possession, the Cavaliers utilized a short field to record the contest's initial score on a quick three-play drive. Quarterback Vic Hall then gave Virginia the early 7-0 advantage when he scampered 34 yards down the right sideline with 12:15 showing on the clock.
W&M later knotted the score at 7-7 with 4:57 remaining in the opening quarter when Archer found senior tight end Rob Varno with a 5-yard touchdown pass. Highlighting the seven-play, 81-yard drive that lasted 2:43 was a 48-yard strike from Archer to redshirt freshman receiver Ryan Moody down the middle of the field that put the College on the Cavs' 5-yard line. Archer was incredibly efficient engineering the drive, completing 4-of-5 passes for 65 yards.
The Tribe looked as if might take its first lead of the contest early in the second quarter, but senior place-kicker Brian Pate's 42-yard field goal attempt from the left hash was blocked. W&M's drive began when Webb earned his first career interception, picking off Jameel Sewell and returned it 18 yards to give the Tribe excellent starting field position.
Virginia retook the lead midway through the second quarter, 14-7, when Sewell capped off a 10-play, 84-yard drive with an 8-yard run.
W&M answered UVA's scoring drive by moving the ball deep into the Cavalier's territory, but it ended without points when Pate's 43-yard field goal attempt struck the left upright. The drive was ignited on the opening play when Archer found McAulay on a 27-yard pass on the left sideline.
The Tribe retook possession just 1:02 later on Virginia's 45-yard line when Webb intercepted Sewell for his second pick of the half. Five plays later, Pate converted a 40-yard field goal to cut the margin to 14-10 with 3:21 remaining in the half.
Just 36 seconds later, the Tribe caused its third turnover of the half when Francks recovered a fumble on Virginia's 39-yard line. Although W&M moved to the Cavaliers' 20, Pate missed a 42-yard field goal from the right hash wide to the left with 1:12 showing on the clock.
Shortly thereafter, the Tribe took advantage of UVA's fourth turnover of the half when Trantin recovered a fumble on a bad snap at the Virginia 46 with 48 seconds showing. Pate later capped off an 8-play, 37-yard drive with a 26-yard field goal as time expired to get the Tribe within one, 14-13, at the intermission.
In addition to causing four turnovers in the opening half, W&M dominated the time of possession, 18:59-11:01, and out-gained the Cavaliers, 229-190. Individually, Archer put up impressive numbers, completing 18-of-32 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. McAulay also had an impressive initial stanza with four receptions for 47 yards.
After redshirt freshman Dante Cooke recovered a muffed punt by Hall at Virginia's 9-yard line, Pate gave the Tribe its first lead of the contest, 16-14, when he booted in a 20-yard field goal from the right hash with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
The Tribe's defensive unit remained tough and came up with a huge stop on a fourth-and-one at midfield with 9:48 left when Trantin and senior defensive end Sean Lissemore stopped quarterback Marc Verica for no gain.
Francks' second fumble recovery of the night, coming on UVA's 36-yard line with 5:46 showing, helped set up another score for the Green and Gold. A 23-yard run by Archer on the first play of the drive helped set a 24-yard field goal by Pate, his fourth of the night, with 3:50 to play.
W&M then sealed the triumph on Virginia's ensuing drive when Webb intercepted Sewell and raced 50 yards down the Tribe sideline for touchdown to give the College a 26-14 cushion and its first victory against Virginia since 1986.
The Tribe will return to action again next weekend when it hosts Central Connecticut State in its home opener at Zable Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.