By: Joe Dillard Jr.
Headline Photo Courtesy: William & Mary Football
Starting off the year we had a chance to speak with William & Mary Head Coach Mike London and the spark was in his eye. We didn’t go into depth about anything other than how great camp was and the grind of getting better every day was a tone setter for how he took his Tribe down to Charlotte for the first game of the year ready on all phases. In a nighttime game where the Tribe rocked the all-white look seemed to be the theme as they were only allowed to play 11 at a time but every player out there seemed faster bigger and stronger this season. The first sign of it was QB Darius Wilson who scrambled for a 44-yard run to get the Tribe in field goal position for the first points of the game with a 36-yard field goal by Ethan Chang. After holding Charlotte to a field goal, it took the Tribe just 2 plays to score with a 31-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Tyler Rose out of Lynchburg, Virginia to put the Tribe up 10-3. In the second quarter, the Tribe had Charlotte on their heels as Donavyn Hester runs in for a 22-yard touchdown to give the Tribe a 14-point lead.
Unfortunately, Charlotte responded with back-to-back touchdowns to tie it up going into halftime 17-17. After the defense gives the ball back to the Tribe offense, they took advantage of the opportunity with a 10-play 69-yard drive capped off by a 28-yard kick from Chang. In what would be the last breakdown for the Tribe defense, Charlotte’s Xavier Williams sprung loose for a 67-yard touchdown run to give Charlotte their first and last lead of the game. With a drive early in the fourth quarter, the Tribe marched down with an impressive 9-play 75-yard drive capped off by Bronson Yoder’s 1-yard run. Yoder who could arguably be the player of the game, lead the rushing attack for the Tribe with 120-yards on 15 touches. The offensive line who would be my second pick controlled the line of scrimmage by marching for 303-yards on 47 carries. You know I will leave it to Mike London who stated that “Everyone who traveled for this game probably played because we needed them”. The offense did a great job, and the defense made some big stops and pinned them back. … When you have complementary football, then you have the opportunity to win a game like this.” The Tribe closed the game out on a 21-0 fourth quarter to get the first win of the season with a 41-24 dogfight against a tough Charlotte team who is a Bowl Subdivision opponent.
The key points to take forward were no turnovers, the start-to-finish approach of the offense, and the defense continuing to travel which is a good sign for London in his 4th season with the Tribe. The grind continues as the Tribe welcomes the Campbell Fighting Camels to Walter J. Zable Stadium at Cary Field for a 6 pm kickoff.