A new era of William & Mary football got off to an exciting start at Zable Stadium on Saturday night, as first-year head coach Mike London led the Tribe to a 30-17 victory against Lafayette in the 2019 season opener.
Although W&M trailed at halftime, 10-6, it outscored the Leopards 24-0 during the third quarter en route to securing the non-conference victory.
The pivotal quarter included a 70-yard touchdown drive to begin the half, while W&M forced turnovers on LC’s next three possessions that resulted in excellent starting field position and 17 points.
While W&M’s offense piled up 255 yards on the ground, the Tribe’s defense generated four turnovers with six sacks and 11.0 TFL.
True freshman quarterback Hollis Mathis posted an impressive collegiate debut, as he rushed for a game-high 127 yards with a touchdown.
Sophomore running back Owen Wright also came up big on the ground with a pair of touchdown and 63 yards on 14 carries.
Defensively, a quartet of players all posted sacks – senior defensive tackle Bill Murray (1.5), sophomore defensive end Carl Fowler (1.5), redshirt freshman linebacker Marteise Phipps (1.5) and sophomore linebacker Jarrett Heckert (1.0). Murray also blocked a field goal late in the second quarter – his seventh career block – while Fowler recovered a fumble and Heckert force one.
Sophomore Jake Johnston converted on three of his four field goal attempts (35, 21, 21).
Inside the Numbers
W&M outgained Lafayette, 418-368, which included a commanding 276-157 advantage on the ground.
After going 0-for-4 on third down conversions during the first half, W&M converted on 10 of its 15 opportunities during the final 30 minutes.
Additionally, W&M dominated the time of possession during the second half, 20:12-9:58.
The Tribe’s offense marched into the red zone seven times and converted on six of those trips, including three touchdowns and three field goals.
Lafayette quarterback Keegan Shoemaker completed 13 of 22 passes for 127 yards with a touchdown pass to John Gay, while quarterback Cole Northrup rushed for a team-high 39 yards with a touchdown.
Defensively, Major Jordan totaled a game-high 12 tackles, while Malik Hamm recorded nine stops with 2.0 TFL.
Although W&M’s first offensive snap went to junior quarterback Ted Hefter, three of the Tribe’s other signal callers were also on the field for the opening play – Mathis, senior Kilton Anderson and junior Shon Mitchell … By earning the start, Mathis became the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener in the program’s 126-year history … W&M’s 418 total yards are the most by the Tribe since the Maine game in 2016 … Additionally, the Tribe’s 255 rushing yards are the most by the program since the win against Norfolk State in 2016 … W&M improves to 4-1 all-time against Lafayette and to 25-10 versus Patriot League teams … The contest marked the first time since 2007 that W&M opened its season at home … With the victory, W&M has won 34 of its last 36 games against non-conference FCS opponents during the regular season … W&M improves to 6-0 in games in which it scores more than 20 points during the last three seasons.
The Tribe will return to action when it plays at Virginia on Friday at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on the ESPN Network.