Tuesday, October 3, 2023

W&M Football loses to Colgate in home opener

W&M’s DeVonte Dedmon had a career-high 10 catches for 104 yards, the second time this season he has topped 100 yards. (Photo courtesy of W&M Athletics)
W&M’s DeVonte Dedmon had a career-high 10 catches for 104 yards, the second time this season he has topped 100 yards. (Photo courtesy of W&M Athletics)

William & Mary players readily admitted mistakes proved costly in blowout losses to James Madison and Virginia Tech the past two games. Those mistakes ranged from turnovers to penalties to missed assignments. They had more of the same Saturday in a 23-0 loss to non-conference foe Colgate.

“We played against a very good team. We knew they were good,” said Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock. “They took advantage of a number of our mistakes.”

The Tribe (1-3) were playing at home for the first time this season (the scheduled Sept. 15 season-opener against Elon was canceled because of Hurricane Florence), but that couldn’t give them a boost.

Things started going badly for the Tribe on just the fourth play of the game. Quarterback Shon Mitchell rolled to his right, but fumbled, setting up Colgate at the W&M 21. Six plays later, Alex Mathews scored from 1 yard out, putting the Tribe in a 7-0 hole just 4:52 into the game.

On the Tribe’s third possession, wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon fumbled after a 22-yard completion, with Colgate recovering at its 32 on the first play of the second quarter. Eight plays later, Chris Puzzi connected on his second field goal of the game to increase Colgate’s lead to 13-0.

“We should be able to dig our way out of that,” Laycock said. “Realistically, you can’t go into a game against a good team … and (commit) turnovers. You just can’t do that and expect to have a chance to win.”

The Tribe’s fourth possession didn’t involve a turnover, but a bad snap on third-and-2 from the Colgate 12 resulted in a loss of 2 yards. Kris Hooper then was wide left on a 31-yard field goal attempt.

Colgate’s Chris Puzzi’s third field goal of the game, a 47-yarder, made it 16-0 halftime. The Raiders, ranked No. 23 in AFCA Coaches’ Poll, put the game out of reach on its opening possession of the second half. They drove 75 yards on 10 plays, capped by a 1-yard scoring run from James Holland for a 23-0 lead.

The Raiders, from Hamilton, N.Y., extended their winning streak to eight, the second-longest active streak in nation behind national champion North Dakota State (9). Colgate came into the game first in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 6.7 points game. And the Raiders handed W&M just its second loss in its past 35 non-conference games in the regular season.

But the Tribe did a lot of things well. Mitchell finished the day 27 for 39 for 251 yards. He was intercepted once. Receiver DeVonte Dedmon had 10 receptions for 104 yards. The offense gained 322 yards, and had drives of 70, 67 and 76 yards. But W&M still hasn’t scored since the fourth quarter of its Sept. 8 game against Virginia Tech, a span of eight periods.

“It was pretty efficient throughout the air today, but just to go back on what Coach was saying, it’s not consistent enough,” Mitchell said. “It’s a good thing to be able to throw the ball one or two times down the field, but then we have that one mistake and we’re coming off the field because of a turnover or because we can’t convert on third or fourth down. It’s just a matter of being more consistent.”

The defense had its moments too.

“We held them to field goals. Defensively we played really well,” Laycock said. “There’s some positives that came out of it. We’re better. Obviously, we’re better than when we started the season. We’re better than last week, but we’re still not where we need to be. Good news, bad news. You’re better, but you’re not where you need to be.”

For Colgate, quarterback Grant Breneman was 16 for 22 for 227 yards. Receiver Owen Buscaglia had seven receptions for 142 yards, and Holland finished with 87 yards on 20 carries.

The Tribe is back at home again next Saturday, taking on CAA foe Albany at 3:30 p.m.

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