WILLIAMSBURG – William & Mary’s football team delivered an emphatic statement to the FCS selection committee Saturday, clobbering arch-rival Richmond, 41-3, at sold-out Zable Stadium. It was the second-largest margin of victory in the 120-game history of the South’s oldest football rivalry.
The victory, coupled with No. 1 Delaware’s overtime loss to Villanova, allowed the Tribe to capture their first Colonial Athletic Association championship since 2004. Both W&M and Delaware finished with 6-2 conference marks, but the crown goes to W&M by virtue of its victory over the Blue Hens earlier this season.
“I guess we saved the best for our last regular-season game,” coach Jimmye Laycock said, moments after receiving the traditional Gatorade shower from his jubilant players. “This is the best game we’ve played all year on offense, defense and special teams.”
Along with the title comes an automatic bid to the FCS championship, and a real possibility of a top-four seed in the 20-team playoff. Not only do the top-four seeds earn a first-round bye, but they will likely have homefield advantage for the next two playoffs games.
In addition to winning the Capital Cup, the Tribe can also take some solace out of almost certainly knocking the Spiders out of FCS playoff consideration. UR, which had defeated W&M six consecutive times, finishes the regular season with a 6-5 record.
W&M, ranked sixth nationally entering the game, will find out its seeding and bracket Sunday at 10 a.m.
Senior quarterback Mike Callahan was nearly flawless in a Senior Day performance on offense that won’t soon be forgotten. Callahan completed 17-of-22 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns. In all, the Tribe churned out 616 yards of total offense against the 18th-ranked team in the nation.
“There’s a guy who’s had two shoulder separations this year and has battled back,” Laycock said.
Richmond opened the scoring with a field goal before the Tribe seized control. Courtland Marriner scored the first of his two touchdowns with a 1-yard plunge to give the Tribe a 7-3 lead.
Richmond made a strategic error early in the second half, refusing a holding penalty against the Tribe that would have given W&M a first and long from deep in its own end. On third-and-6, Callahan hit Jonathan Grimes with a short swing pass out of the backfield, and the junior running back raced down the left sideline for 64 yards to the Spiders 18.
On the next snap, Marriner broke off right tackle for 18 yards and the touchdown that pushed the margin to 14-3 and started the rout.
The Tribe led 21-3 at the half, and quickly exerted their superiority in the second.
After opening with a field goal to end a 6:34 drive, Tribe linebacker Evan Francks intercepted a John Laub pass and returned it to the Spiders 41. Ultimately, Callahan found tight end Alex Gottlieb all alone behind the Spiders defense for a touchdown that removed all doubt about the outcome with 4:49 still remaining in the third quarter.