Oct. 23, 2010

Courtesy of William and Mary Athletics

The No. 4/5 William and Mary football team rallied back from a 10-point halftime deficit to earn a thrilling 17-16 victory against No. 2 Delaware in front of a sold-out homecoming crowd on Saturday afternoon at Zable Stadium.

The Blue Hens (7-1, 4-1) had a chance to retake the lead with less than a minute remaining, but placekicker Mike Perrys 42-yard field goal attempt from the right hash missed wide to the left as the Tribe (6-1, 4-1) held on for the one-point triumph.

Off to a 6-1 start for the second-consecutive season, W&M extended its overall winning streak to five games while pushing its home winning streak to 10. Additionally, the victory against UD marked the second time this month that the College has defeated a team ranked among the top-two nationally, as it beat then-No. 2 Villanova, 31-24, on Oct. 2.

After missing the past two games with an injury, senior quarterback Mike Callahan returned midway through the third quarter and engineered a pair of touchdown drives. He finished the contest completing 7-of-10 passes for 93 yards with a touchdown. Payton Award candidate running back Jonathan Grimes also came up big with a game-high 77 yards rushing and threw a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Chase Hill midway through the fourth quarter.

Sophomore linebacker Dante Cook came up with a number of key stops and recorded a career-high 15 tackles with two sacks and three tackles for a loss. Senior defensive tackle Mike Stover also provided some big plays and posted a pair of sacks. Collectively, the defense did an outstanding job against Delawares rushing attack as it held Andrew Pierce to just 55 yards on the ground - more than 70 yards fewer than his average entering the game.

After both teams went 3-and-out on their opening possessions, the Tribe got on the scoreboard first when Drake Kuhn kicked a 39-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. The successful kick capped off a 12-play, 64-yard drive that lasted 5:29.

Delaware answered with a field goal on its next possession to knot the score at 3-3 late in the opening quarter.

The Blue Hens looked as if they might score again on its next drive, but Cook and senior linebacker Evan Francks stopped Pierce for no gain on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

After the Tribe failed to convert a fourth-and-two from UDs 33-yard line later in the quarter, Delaware took its first lead of the game four plays later when quarterback Pat Devlin connected with wide receiver Nihja White on a 51-yard touchdown pass down the middle with 2:25 showing.

UD pushed the advantage to 13-3 when Perry kicked a 40-yard field goal as the first half clock expired.

After entering the game midway through the third quarter, Callahan led the Tribe on a seven-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Alex Gottlieb. Callahan completed 3-of-3 passes on the drive for 52 yards, the longest of which was a 31-yard strike to sophomore wideout Ryan Moody.

While a 20-yard field goal by Perry pushed the margin to 16-10 with 10:49 remaining, W&M answered with the go-ahead touchdown on its next possession. Facing a second-and-goal from the 6-yard line, Grimes took a pitch from Callahan and then found Hill open in the back right side of the end zone with 6:25 remaining. It was Grimes first career pass, while the catch moved Hill into the Tribes career top 10 for receiving touchdowns (15).

Although Delaware was forced to punt on its next drive, in big part because of a12-yard sack by Cook, the Blue Hens defense responded and held W&M to a three-and-out on its ensuing possession.

After taking over at its own 46-yard line with 2:52 remaining, Delaware drove to the Tribes 25 to set up the final field goal attempt with 30 seconds remaining. Following the miss, W&M ran out the clock to preserve the victory.

The Tribe will return to action next weekend when it plays at North Carolina on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.