HARRISONBURG - Jimmye Laycock described trying a 2-point conversion for the win in double overtime against James Madison as a "gut feeling."
It didn't work out for William and Mary or its coach.
Raphael Ortiz's pass to the back of the end zone fell incomplete, batted down in a crowd by JMU safety Jakarie Jackson, and the Tribe blew an early two-touchdown lead to lose 27-26 Saturday in front of 22,227 fans at Bridgeforth Stadium.
"We'd gone back and forth in the overtime and our defense had been out there so much, and if we kicked the extra point, we were going to have to go back out there again and play defense," Laycock said. "I just felt like it was kind of a gut feeling. I thought we had it; we just didn't get it."
After trading field goals in the first overtime after regulation ended with the game tied at 17, JMU (5-1, 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association) scored on a 3-yard run by tailback Dae'Quan Scott go ahead 27-20 to start the second overtime.
The Tribe (2-5, 1-3) answered with a four-play drive, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Ortiz to wide receiver Tre McBride — a play originally negated by an illegal-touching penalty. But the referee ruled that it was not McBride, who finished with seven catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, who went out of bounds and came back in.
On the next play, Ortiz, who played every offensive down for W&M, which has rotated quarterbacks all season, rolled out and looked for McBride in the end zone on the 2-point conversion.
"We practice that every week," said Ortiz, who went 14-of-23 for 177 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. "They were in zone coverage. It was tough to fit in certain windows. (I tried) moving around in the pocket a little just so that maybe one of the defensive guys would shift and leave one of our three options open. … I just put it up for someone to make a play on it."
Said JMU coach Mickey Matthews: "I certainly don't blame Jimmye for going for it. I like a guy that plays to win, and he was playing to win."
William and Mary should have won it in regulation.
With a second on the clock, Drake Kuhn missed a 31-yard field goal wide left. It was his second miss of the afternoon, and coming into the game, Kuhn had made five of eight field goals this season. Saturday, the junior from Lafayette High went 2-for-4, hitting from 39 and 38 yards, but missing from 43 and 31.
Overall, the Tribe went just 2-for-5 on field goals. John Carpenter attempted W&M's first, a 45-yarder with 3:59 left in the first quarter because, Laycock said, it was a longer try and the sophomore has a better leg.
Laycock also said Kuhn wasn't "100 percent," but when asked what was wrong with the kicker, he refused to say. Still, the 33rd-year coach said he was confident Kuhn would make the 31-yard kick.
"I thought he would make that field goal," Laycock said. "I didn't have any reservations whatsoever — especially when we got that first down there. I thought he would make that one. He didn't."
Quarterback Justin Thorpe led Madison — which, with Old Dominion's loss to Villanova, moved into sole possession of first place in the CAA — by throwing for 157 yards and a touchdown with one interception on 14 of 20 attempts. He also ran for a career-high 106 yards on 21 carries.
Wide receiver Arlandis Harvey also had a career day, catching six passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, helping the Dukes, fourth ranked in The Sports Network's FCS poll, rally after trailing 14-0 with 10:49 left in the second quarter. After that, William and Mary's offense had five straight three-and-outs.