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EASTON, Pa. – The William & Mary football team opened the 2015 season with a lopsided 34-7 victory at Lafayette on Saturday evening.
Although W&M led by just a touchdown at halftime, it outscored the Leopards, 20-0, during the final 30 minutes.
The Tribe (1-0) made big plays in all three phases of the game en route to securing important non-conference win.
Junior quarterback Steve Cluley’s stat line included 289 passing yards (20 of 30) with two touchdowns and was highlighted by a 58-yard scoring strike to junior wideout Kevin Hart and a 52-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Christian Reeves.
Senior running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor also provided tremendous production and rushed for 106 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns. In doing so, he posted his sixth-consecutive 100-yard rushing effort (dating back to last season), which ties the school record set by Derek Fitzgerald in 1993. Additionally, the Alpharetta, Ga., native moved into the Tribe’s all-time top-10 lists for career rushing yards (2,438) and rushing touchdowns (20).
In addition to holding the Leopards (0-1) scoreless in the second half, the Tribe’s defense posted a pair of interceptions (Aaron Swinton and Raeshawn Smith). Senior defensive tackle Tyler Claytor also recorded a blocked field goal that was returned 55 yards by sophomore cornerback Denzel Dykes.
The Tribe outgained LC, 486-332, and allowed the Leopards to score on just one of their four trips into the red zone.
W&M got on the scoreboard first with a 2-yard touchdown run by Abdul-Saboor with 2:55 left in the opening quarter. The run capped off a 10-play, 80-yard drive that began after Swinton intercepted Lafayette quarterback Blake Searfoss in the end zone.
A 52-yard touchdown strike from Cluley to Reeves on a third-and-17 increased W&M’s lead to 14-0 with 9:58 remaining in the second quarter. The Tribe converted four third-down opportunities during the march en route to finding the end zone.
Shortly after Dennis Bencsko intercepted Cluley at Lafayette’s 39-yard line, LC cut the deficit in half with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Searfoss to tight end Bobby DePietro with 0:26 remaining in the second quarter.
The College outgained LC, 219-175, in the opening half and converted 8-of-9 third down situations.
W&M opened the second half with a 14-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ended with a 20-yard field goal by sophomore placekicker Nick Dorka, Jr. The march, which lasted 6:10, was keyed by a 19-yard run by Reeves and a 17-yard scamper by Abdul-Saboor on a fourth-and-one from the LC 24-yard line.
A 58-yard touchdown strike down the middle of the field from Cluley to Hart extended W&M’s lead to 24-7 with 4:33 remaining.
A blocked field goal by Claytor and 55-yard return by Dykes set up the Tribe’s next touchdown, as Abdul-Saboor followed up the big special teams play with a 32-yard touchdown run two plays later to put W&M ahead, 31-7, with 14:03 left in the fourth quarter.
W&M pushed the margin to 34-7 with a 32-yard field goal by Dorka with 7:19 remaining. The 49-yard drive began after stopping LC on downs and was highlighted by a 44-yard pass from Cluley to junior wideout Flynn Heald.
After a bye week next Saturday, the Tribe will return to action when it plays at Virginia on Sept. 19.