The William & Mary football team handed No. 16/20 Maine its first conference loss of the season with an exciting 27-20 Homecoming victory at Zable Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Although W&M (3-3, 2-2) trailed by a field goal at halftime, 17-14, it rallied back with three consecutive scoring drives and limited the Black Bears (4-3, 3-1) to just three points in the second half.
Also keying the Tribe’s victory were three interceptions, highlighted by linebacker Arman Jones’ 90-yard pick-six early in the second quarter.
After W&M knotted the score at 17-17 on Kris Hooper’s 36-yard field goal with 5:31 left in the third quarter, the Tribe took the lead for good when quarterback Ted Hefter connected on a 30-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Jalen Christian early in the fourth quarter.
W&M then extended the margin to 27-17 on its next possession with a 37-yard field goal by Hooper.
A 40-yard field goal by Maine’s Kenny Doak cut the lead to a touchdown with 6:47 remaining, but W&M held the Black Bears scoreless on its next two possessions to secure the impressive conference win.
Safety Isaiah Laster helped seal the win when he intercepted Maine’s Chris Ferguson at the W&M 20 with just 1:56 remaining before the Tribe ran out the clock.
Muse led the Tribe offensively with a career-high eight catches for 107 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dean Rotger midway through the first quarter.
Hefter entered the game late in the second quarter and completed 12 of 27 passes for 170 yards with a touchdown, while Rotger completed 4 of 6 passes for 65 yards with a touchdown in his first career start.
Wideout Chris Conlan finished with two catches for 62 yards, highlighted by a 56-yard reception that helped set up W&M’s first touchdown.
In addition to his 90-yard pick-six, Jones posted eight tackles and 0.5 TFL, while linebacker Josh Dulaney recorded a team-high nine tackles with an interception and a TFL.
Defensive tackle Bill Murray totaled a pair of sacks and 3.0 TFL, while safety Corey Parker added a career-high three PBU’s with a TFL.
Inside the numbers
Although W&M was outgained 347-268 and totaled just 11 first downs, it forced three turnovers – all interceptions – and held Maine to just 4 of 18 on third down. Additionally, the Black Bears scored on just one of its three trips into the red zone.
Of the Tribe’s 268 total yards, 235 came through the air.
Maine was penalized 13 times for 130 yards, compared to W&M’s five penalties for 61 yards.
All five of W&M’s scoring drives lasted less than 3 minutes.
The Black Bears owned more than a 10-minute advantage in time of possession (35:06-24:54).
Wideout Earnest Edwards led Maine with nine catches for 196 yards, while quarterback Chris Ferguson completed 26 of 46 passes for 278 yards.
Running back Ramon Jefferson rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown.
Defensively, linebacker Deshawn Stevens totaled 10 tackles with a sack and 2.5 TFL, while linebacker Taji Low posted 11 tackles with a forced fumble, fumble recovery and TFL.
The win was W&M’s first against a nationally ranked team since defeating No. 7 Richmond in the 2016 season finale … The victory marked the second time this season W&M has rallied back from a second half deficit, as it came back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter in the win against Albany … Jones’ touchdown ranks as the third-longest pick-six in school history … It also marks the second consecutive week in which Jones has found the end zone, as he returned a blocked field goal 71 yards for a touchdown at Towson last week … Christian’s touchdown catch was the first of his career … W&M improves to 53-37 all-time in Homecoming games.
The Tribe will return to action when it plays at No. 22/23 Rhode Island next Saturday at noon.