Villanova fans knew this would be a tough game even before learning they would be without All-America wideout, Matt Szczur. Seventh-ranked William and Mary (4-1, 2-1 CAA) lived up to expectations, holding off a furious 4thquarter rally to defeat #1-ranked Villanova (3-2, 1-1) 31-24 before over 12,000 pumped-up fans at Zable Stadium in Williamsburg. The game provided sweet revenge for the Tribe, which lost by a single point to Villanova last season in the FCS semifinals.
The Tribe scored first with 1:35 remaining in the first quarter on an 8 yard run by Jonathan Grimes. That touchdown proved to be the winning margin, as scoring by the Cats and the Tribe was even the rest of the way. Grimes , whose status was uncertain due to an injury last week, scored three rushing touchdowns for the game.
The turning point arguably occurred with 5:03 to go in the second quarter with the Cats down 14-0. A poor punt by William and Mary gave the Cats great field position. With the Cats driving, linebacker Dante Cook intercepted a Chris Whitney pass at the Tribe's 16 yard line and returned it 84 yards for a touchdown. In a possible 14-point swing, the score ballooned to 21 – 0. The Daily Press of Williamsburg quotes Coach Tally reflecting, "We just weren’t good enough today to overcome a momentum shift like that."
Villanova trailed by as much as 25 points late in the third quarter, but closed within a touchdown as Chris Whitney ran one in from 4-yards out with 7:34 remaining and passed 47 yards for another touchdown to Norman White with 2:10 to go. However, with no remaining time outs, Villanova tried an onside kick on the ensuing play, which William and Mary recovered and ran out the clock.
Eight Wildcats missed all or parts of the game because of injuries, including Matt Szczur (ankle) and center Dan Shirey (jaw). However, Coach Tally blamed the loss on a lack of intensity, not injuries. The Cats converted only 3 of 15 third down plays during the game and defensive lapses accounted for several Tribe scores.
The schedule-makers picked a great time to give Villanova a week off, which hopefully will allow sufficient time for its many injured players to heal. The Cats hit the road again in two weeks to play at Maine.