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Climbing the ladder: Tribe football up to No. 3

We’re No. 3.

William, & Mary’s football team, fresh from victories over then No. 1-Villanova and No. 2 Delaware, moved up to third in the Sports Network/ Top-25 poll announced on Monday.

That matches the highest the Tribe has been ranked in the 116 years the College has played football. W&M was third-ranked for two weeks in 1997, and again for a week the following season.

Meanwhile, in the FCS Coaches Poll, also out on Monday, the Tribe ranked fourth, up one spot from last week.

A heart-stopping 17-16 homecoming victory over second-ranked Delaware on Saturday earned W&M two first-place votes in the Sports Network poll, not enough for the Tribe to jump over top-ranked Appalachian State (7-0) or No. 2 Jacksonville State (8-0). W&M is 6-1, having won six straight since an opening-game loss to Massachusetts.

“We’ve played some pretty good teams – some very good teams – and we’ve been fortunate to (win),” Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said Monday. “We’ve played hard, very, very hard in the games. Any win in this league is a significant win, like the one Saturday against Delaware. That was a significant win.”

In addition, running back Jonathan Grimes was named Colonial Athletic Association offensive player of the week. Grimes, a  junior, rushed for 71 yards on 21 carries, returned four kicks for 95 yards, and threw the game-winning touchdown pass of six yards to receiver Chase Hill.

It’s the sixth time in his career that Grimes has been so honored by the league.

The other offensive star for the Tribe Saturday was fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Callahan, who came off the bench to relieve Mike Paulus and completed 7-of-10 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Callahan, who had been recovering from a separated shoulder, will start Saturday when the Tribe travels to Chapel Hill, N.C. to meet North Carolina.

Defensively, William & Mary put up three goal-line stands against Delaware. Twice, the Blue Hens drove inside the Tribe 5-yard line, but were forced to settle for field goals. The third time, linebackers Dante Cook and Evan Francks combined to stop running back Andrew Pierce on third-and-goal from the 2 and on fourth-and-goal from the 1.