1:53 PM EST, November 4, 2012
Clearly, we have reached the point that requires chicken blood and ritual animal sacrifice. William and Mary has tried conventional means of achieving success, methods that have worked for, oh, mostly the last 25 years. Something stronger is needed.
The football gods have demonstrated that they are capable of multi-tasking when so inclined. Not only can they throw a karmic shot to the kielbasa of Randy Edsall and sustain Kentucky as the SEC’s chew toy, on the side they can humble honorable, successful men.
Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock isn’t given to introspection when it comes to football. He’s committed to the gospel of even-keel and consistency. But this season has the Big Whistle talking to squirrels and seeking answers in the falling leaves around the Tribe’s practice field.
William and Mary’s 28-25 loss at No. 11 New Hampshire on Saturday was its fifth loss by three points or less this season. The Tribe couldn’t hold a late lead. Yet another injury at quarterback again activated the revolving door.
W&M fell to 2-7 for the first time since 1982, Laycock’s third season, back when the schedule was dotted with I-A opponents and the program was a Division I-AA independent simply trying to find footing.
Honestly, given their respective seasons, when Laycock and Bill Curry met before the Tribe-Georgia State game, it’s a wonder that the combined bad juju didn’t cause creaky, old Zable Stadium to crumble around them.
Week 11 in the Association saw several teams step closer to postseason and continue developing trends. Old Dominion dispatched the Fighting Currys 53-27 at the Georgia Dome. James Madison tossed Maine into an Orono dumpster 31-7 and welcomed back quarterback Justin Thorpe. Richmond intercepted the Conference Wafflers 39-0. Towson traveled north on I-95 and defeated Delaware 34-27 in overtime, its first win in Newark.
Villanova was idle, as were Northeastern and Hofstra.
William and Mary and UNH (8-2, 6-1 CAA) were pretty even statistically. The Tribe led 25-21 with six minutes remaining, courtesy of a Michael Graham TD plunge at the end of a 78-yard drive. Graham played the final 2 1/2 quarters after second-string QB Brent Caprio was injured on a run midway through the second quarter.
Caprio was playing because starter Raphael Ortiz was still feeling the effects of a shoulder injury he sustained the previous week. All Caprio did was complete his first five throws, including a TD pass to Tre McBride, before he was hurt.
Anyway, needing a stop, the Tribe defense saw UNH go 84 yards in just six plays for the eventual game-winner. W&M actually had two more possessions after that, but Graham was intercepted at the New Hampshire 22 to thwart one drive – the game’s only turnover – and a last-second heave was batted down.
So UNH coach Sean McDonnell gets his first win as a head coach against Laycock in 10 tries. Obviously, powerful forces at work.
ODU (8-1, 5-1 CAA) jumped out to a 32-0 halftime lead, then muddled through the final 30 minutes against the Currys in the coach’s final home game. The Monarchs piled up 566 yards in sophomore QB Taylor Heinicke’s return to his hometown of Atlanta.
Heinicke put up solid numbers (28-for-42 for 351 yards and three TDs), but was a smidgen off. He threw three interceptions, was sacked four times and missed reads. Afterward, he told reporters that he wondered if he got caught up in the periphery of playing in front of hometown friends and family, and was not as focused as necessary.
James Madison (7-2, 5-1 CAA) dusted the Black Bears. The Mickeys held Maine to seven first downs, 19 rushing yards and 104 total. They intercepted Marcus Wasilewski three times.
On offense, the Dukes rushed for 314 yards, with both Dae’Quan Scott and Thorpe over 100 yards. Thorpe returned because coach Mickey Matthews wanted to reintroduce the option, since he thought the offense had grown too predictable.
Freshman Michael Birdsong again started, with Thorpe getting time as a change of pace. However, as the Dukes’ offense began to cruise, the coaching staff went with him more extensively. He might get more time, as Birdsong suffered an ankle injury on a tackle in the final minute.
Towson-Delaware was essentially an elimination game, competitively and biologically. The Tigers (5-4, 4-2 CAA) kept alive their playoff hopes in a tight, bruising affair that provided ample opportunites for soiling oneself.
Meanwhile, Delaware (5-4, 2-4 CAA) now has four losses and can finish with no more than six Division I wins – a formula that kept the Chickens out of the playoffs last year when they finished 7-4.
Towson’s Terrance West ran for 113 yards and two TDs. QB Grant Enders threw for 187 yards and two TDs on 21-for-26 efficiency. He rushed for another 41 yards as the Tigers had a 15-minute edge in time of possession.
Towson responded after Delaware scored to take a 24-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Tigers drove 80 yards in 15 plays, converting a 4th-and-7 along the way, to take a 27-24 lead with 44 seconds left.
Delaware then drove 42 yards in 40 seconds, with Sean Baner kicking a 40-yard field goal into a stiff wind with two seconds left to force overtime.
West scored to cap Towson’s OT touchdown drive. The Tigers’ Jordan Love then intercepted Trent Hurley (309 yards passing) at the goal line on Delaware’s possession – the game’s only turnover.
Richmond predictably took care of the depleted Wafflers. The Spiders (6-3, 4-2 CAA) totaled 469 yards and intercepted Rhody quarterback Danny Fenyak five times, on five consecutive possessions, by five different players, in the second and third quarters.
UR has 19 interceptions this season and is a remarkable plus-16 in turnover margin.
The football gods must like something UR coach Danny Rocco is doing. Or perhaps it’s just payback for last year’s 0-8 CAA slog. In either case, maybe he can share strategies or his mojo hand with Laycock when the two meet in two weeks. Too late for this season, but you can never start too early on next year.
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