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Tribe starts slow, but blows out VMI, 52-17
Williamsburg, VA - The Keydets of VMI (1-1) picked off two Jake Phillips passes on their first two defensive series, but failed to capitalize. William & Mary responded with three straight TDs and overpowered the Big South visitor on their way to a 52-17 victory as they accumulated 570 yards of total offense. Phillips overcame his first period turnovers by throwing for three TD passes among his 172 passing yards. W&M's running attack went into high gear with quick footed sophomore Terrence Riggins and true freshman Jonathan Grimes. Riggins rushed for 180 yards on 15 carries while Grimes ran for 97 on only five. Both scored two TDS. Grimes started the scoring with a 24-yard run, and Phillips followed up with TD passes on consecutive series with a 21-yard toss to his TE, Rob Varno, and a 29-yard pass to WR D.J. McAulay. Greg Stevens put VMI on the board with his 33-yard FG, but the Tribe covered 65 yards on two plays before the half ended with Grimes taking it in for the 12 for a 28-3 halftime lead.
The two teams played before 10,624 in the almost full Zable Stadium in the home opener for the Tribe. The very adept and large Grafton HS Marching Band performed at the half as lightning bolts danced in the distance on a hot, humid night.
VMI fumbled the ball on their first play from scrimmage to start the second half and the Colonial Athletic Association team wasted no time in converting when Phillips ran an option play for 19 yards to extend the onslaught, 35-3. I put away the notepad after that when VMI's offense came to life behind the running of option QB Tim Maypray. The converted slotback finished the day as the Keydets one offensive bright spot with 134 yards on 26 carries. The highlight came when he outran the Tribe D on a 64-yard TD run. VMI closed the score to 38-17, but the Tribe (1-1) came up with two more TDS with second-teamers in to close out their first win of the year, 52-17.
W&M's young, quick backs seemed to hit holes quicker than anyone on Rutgers team could the previous Thursday night. They will be competitive in conference play, but they have a difficult road ahead with games at New Hampshire, Delaware, and James Madison. Villanova and Richmond will visit Zable as will local rival Norfolk State in their remaining non-conference game next week. As for Virginia Military Institute, they will probably bring up the rear again in the Big South, but we give first-year Head Coach Sparky Woods a couple of years to start turning the program around. Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Bernie Olszyk pointed out the one dimensional aspect of the VMI offense that came up with only 25 passing yards. He'll need to develop his offense to equal the success he reached at Appalachian State and South Carolina. He coached RBs for the NY Jets one season, and also coached RBs at Alabama from 2003-6.
Extra Points: It was great hooking up with our friend Bernie Olszyk who now lives in Williamsburg. Bernie was our prime contact for several years up in Syracuse when his daughter, Heather, matriculated there. We had his seats for one of the greatest games we ever saw when the Orangemen defeated Virginia Tech in 1998, 28-26. Donovan McNabb threw a TD pass to TE Stephen Brominski with no time left on the clock. Bernie met us at Spectator's, a local sports bar where we caught up as we watched game action around the country unfold before us. One was the PSU trouncing over Syracuse. We agree SU Coach Robinson is gone! Bernie thinks before the season. He thinks the Orange should go for Skip Holtz. Good choice! The more I thought about it, I wonder if the Orange would be open to Buffalo's Turner Gill? I'm sure he has an escape clause to Nebraska. The Bulls may not let him off to nearby Syracuse.
Bernie, who was also a purchasing manager prior to a long sales career, got caught up in the spirit of collegefootballfan.com as he searched out a free parking space. Many local streets were restricted to bearers of parking decals, but we found the perfect spot for night parking in Williamsburg - the local US post office! Ssshhhh! Bernardo, as we refer to him, came up big wearing his collegefootballfan.com polo shirt to the game! It looked good on him.
We sat in the west end of Zable Stadium in front of the scoreboard. When we first got there, the "All State" net to catch kicks blocked our view. Bernie was the first to yell drop the net so we could see better. They did, but aside from the ads, we can't figure out why the bother to put them up. Just about every kick went over the top and out of the stadium. Watch out for flying footballs when you get behind the bleachers near the concession stand!
Zable is a nice, quaint, brick stadium that fits in with all the other architecture in on the colonial campus. A strong showing of students emblazoned in green and gold showed up for the Tribe. Keydets showed up in white uniforms and gray dress caps. I guess they still don't have women there.
The Tribe is coached by Jimmye Laycock who has been there since 1980. We saw his team lose a game to Temple, 42-0, in his second season. He's fared much better since with a career record of 182-134-2. Seven of his teams made it to post-season play including the semi-finals of the 2004 playoffs. This was our first trip to see a game at Zable, but we've seen his team win games at Princeton and Rhode Island while losing at Delaware (2) and at Villanova. Among LaCock's greatest achievements at W&M are his high rates of graduation among his players. On his team we watched in 1981 was DL Mike Kneidinger, John Massimilla's cousin. Mike is a successful COO now for a large, global entertainment/restaurant chain. We remember spending an evening with Mike doing flaming shots while Mike demonstrated his capability to do flaming potato chips! He was evidently destined for the restaurant business.