Friday, March 1, 2024

Tribe hopes to continue growth at Rhode Island

Junior Jalen Christian’s first career touchdown reception was a big one for the Tribe. (Courtesy W&M Athletics)
Junior Jalen Christian’s first career touchdown reception was a big one for the Tribe. (Courtesy W&M Athletics)

The seeds for William & Mary’s 27-20 comeback victory last Saturday against Maine actually were sown in their early season losses.

In a three-game losing streak after winning the season opener, the Tribe’s youth and inexperience often showed. However, in winning two of their past three, that wasn’t the case.

“They just kept hanging in there and kept playing,” W&M coach Jimmye Laycock said of the homecoming win over the Black Bears. “They didn’t let one bad play or mistake lead to others. They were able to regroup. And when it came down to the end, they came up with the plays.”

Laycock, who is retiring at the end of the season after 39 years at W&M, said his team’s youth showed in those early losses, and often one mistake would lead to others. The young players were unable to put the bad play behind them and concentrate on the next.

“I saw that (early on),” he said. “You don’t like it to happen, but it’s kind of a sign of being young. A lot of these guys hadn’t been playing that many snaps. They’ve learned, and that’s what you want. You get into the season and you’re learning how you react in game situations. You can’t simulate that in practice.”

The Tribe (3-4, 2-2 CAA) needs to continue that growth this week at Rhode Island (4-3, 2-2), which fell out of the STATSFCS Poll after losing to Stony Brook.

Quarterback JaJuan Lawson is averaging 247.8 passing yards a game, wide receiver Aaron Parker is averaging 80.4 yards a game, and Lorenzo Bryant Jr. (56.5 yards a game) leads the running game. The Rams are averaging 33.7 points a game.

The Tribe will be without wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon, running back Albert Funderburke Jr. and backup quarterback Dean Rotger. Laycock said at Tuesday’s weekly media day he hadn’t decided if Shon Mitchell or Ted Hefter would start at QB.

W&M will look to receiver Jalen Christian to make an impact again. Saturday, the first touchdown catch of his career gave the Tribe the lead for good in the fourth quarter.

“We’re trying to get Jalen involved more,” Laycock said. “We’ve got to keep working with him. His presence will continue to be known out there. They have a lot of confidence in him.”

Christian was hampered by injuries his first two seasons, but has played all seven games this season.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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