You don’t have to look far down the list of the nation’s top-25 FCS schools to find William & Mary this week. In fact, you don’t have to look down the list at all.
For the first time in the College’s 116 years of football, the Tribe is No. 1.
You read that right – No. 1.
Following W&M’s gutsy 13-3 road victory over No. 8 New Hampshire on Saturday, the College vaulted Appalachian State, Jacksonville State, and Villanova into the top spot of the Sports Network/Fathead.com top-25 poll Monday. Coach Jimmye Laycock’s team (7-2, 5-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association) received 105 first-place votes to just 31 for new No. 2 Delaware.
"It is nice to be recognized, but now is not the time for our players and coaches to look at the polls,” Laycock said. “I am sure being ranked No. 1 is something our fans and alumni can get excited about, but our program needs to remain focused on preparing for (Saturday's opponent) James Madison."
The Tribe defeated the second-place Blue Hens, 17-16, on Homecoming afternoon, Oct. 23. It is Delaware’s only loss of the season, on the road with a missed last-minute field goal. But it was enough to keep UD from a legitimate claim to the top spot.
The Tribe's victory over New Hampshire came with third-string quarterback Brent Caprio, a redshirt freshman, tossing a touchdown pass to Chase Hill in the second quarter.
But after Caprio was forced from the game by injury – the Tribe’s third quarterback felled in two weeks – Laycock relied on the running of Jonathan Grimes and a resolute defense to pull out a key conference victory.
Grimes finished with 111 yards, and was a significant contributor in that effort down the stretch. His 1-yard touchdown run with 0:56 remaining in the third quarter gave W&M at 13-3 lead. The short three-play, 35-yard drive was set up when Jabrel Mines recovered a fumble on punt coverage, marking the second consecutive week in which he has recorded a fumble recovery on special teams coverage. Grimes keyed the entire drive, as all three plays were runs by the Palmyra, N.J., native.
UNH had a pair of scoring opportunities in the fourth quarter, but neither yielded any points. George Beerhalter came up with a huge stop on a fourth-and-1 at W&M’s 23 midway through the quarter, while the UNH kicker missed a 41-yard field goal with 2:49 remaining.
W&M’s two losses have come against top-25 Massachusetts in its season opener and against FBS school North Carolina in a game William & Mary led until the final five minutes. The Tribe has beaten the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 8 teams in the country.
In the FCS coaches' poll that came out later the same day, the Tribe was second, behind Delaware.