William and Mary just missed pulling off what would have been a very satisfying upset.
The Tribe held the lead for much of Saturday's season opener with Maryland. But William and Mary couldn't hold on in the fourth quarter as the Terrapins used a late touchdown to pull out a 7-6 victory at Byrd Stadium.
William and Mary now has lost 10 of its last 11 season openers, but this one probably won't sting as much as some of the others. The Tribe took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter against Maryland, an Football Bowl Subdivision team, and hung on until Justus Pickett ran for a 6-yard touchdown with 9:52 left in the game. Brad Craddock's extra point turned out to be the deciding play in Maryland's one-point win.
But the Tribe was more than pleased with its performance, despite losing the game.
"I take a lot of positives out of this," William and Mary coach Jimmye Laycock said. "These guys lined up with an ACC team and went toe-to-toe pretty well. I take a lot of things out of this. We don't have the depth they have or the size they have, but that didn't stop us from playing like we did."
So many things could have hurt the Tribe on this day, but they just kept on battling. Starting quarterback Brent Caprio injured his shoulder in the first half and didn't return, but Raphael Ortiz stepped in and made some good plays in his spot (7-for-16, 100 yards).
Keith McBride (55 yards) and Meltoya Jones (40) led a rushing attack that was able to move the ball enough to keep the Maryland defense on the field a lot at times. Tre McBride made six catches for 97 yards and helped the Tribe get first downs.
Drake Kuhn kicked field goals of 30 and 22 yards in the first quarter to give William and Mary the 6-0 lead. He also averaged 40.5 yards on six punts, including a 53-yard kick.
The Tribe's biggest problem was they just couldn't come up with enough big plays on offense. William and Mary moved the ball, but couldn't do it enough. Kuhn missed on a 48-yard field-goal attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter, and the Terps then got their only touchdown drive.
"At the end of the game, we were getting a lot of opportunities to score," Ortiz said. "I think we could have executed a little better on offense."
The defense turned in a strong effort against a shaky Maryland offense. Quarterback Perry Hills, in his first collegiate start, struggled early. The freshman completed 16 of 24 for 145 yards, but he threw three interceptions, two of which came in a first quarter where the Terrapins turned the ball over three times.
But the Tribe could score just six points from those mistakes. William and Mary started its first drive at the Maryland 34 after a DeAndre Houston-Carson interception but only gained 21 yards before Kuhn's first field goal.
The biggest problem likely came on the second Maryland turnover. That's when Brian Thompson picked off a Hills pass as he got hit and returned it 32 yards to Terrapins' 9-yard line.
However, Maryland stiffened on defense and stopped the Tribe at the 5-yard line and forced a field goal to keep it at 6-0.
Afterward, coach Randy Edsall and several of the Maryland players tipped their hats to William and Mary. The Tribe finished with 229 yards total offense, and the Terrapins gained just 236. William and Mary also held a 15-13 edge in first downs and was called for only one penalty.
"William and Mary played tough," Hills said. "I'm excited for the win. There are a lot of things I can improve on. I look forward to next week."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun