DURHAM, N.H. — Not this time.
William and Mary came from behind twice and took the lead with six minutes left to play, but was unable to hold off No. 11 New Hampshire and lost 28-25 to the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Cowell Stadium.
The Tribe had won nine straight games in the series and hadn’t lost to UNH since 1998.
The Wildcats won their sixth straight game and all but wrapped up a best-in-the-nation ninth straight appearance in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
They improved to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association, which they lead. But they had their hands full with the Tribe (2-7, 1-5), which has five losses by three points or fewer.
“I thought it was two very competitive teams and two very good teams that were playing extremely hard,” W&M coach Jimmye Laycock said. “I don’t think we were playing like you’d expect a team with our record to play.”
The Tribe had rallied from 18-7 down at the half and then 21-18 down early in the fourth period to grab a 25-21 lead on a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Michael Graham with exactly six minutes left.
The TD came on fourth down, less than a yard from the goal line.
“We talked about it and (Graham) felt he could get it,” Laycock said. “There wasn’t any sense messing around. Let him go get it.”
Graham dove over the right side of the line.
Graham had come on for starter Brent Caprio, who left the game with a shoulder injury after taking a hit in the second quarter. Sophomore QB Raphael Ortiz, who is injured, did not make the trip.
UNH answered with its own scoring drive.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Goldrich quickly marched UNH 70 yards down the field. A nice throw and catch to senior Joey Orlando covered 32 yards to the W&M 19.
On the next play, sophomore running back Nico Steriti hit a hole, broke a couple of tackles and went 19 yards for his second score of the game, putting UNH up 28-25.
There was still 4:14 left to play.
The Tribe earned a couple of first downs, and there were nearly two minutes left when Graham went back to pass on second-and-5 from the UNH 42.
He threw to the left side and UNH redshirt freshman Keith Parkinson went up and intercepted the pass.
“I just got a little greedy,” Graham said. “I was just trying to make a play. I should have just come down to the check-down.”
The Tribe defense forced a punt to give the offense the ball again. But UNH held, and Graham’s desperation pass at the end was short and incomplete.
The Wildcats, down 7-0 after the first period on Caprio’s 30-yard TD pass to Tre McBride, seemed to take control in the second with a Mike MacArthur 23-yard field goal and a couple of touchdowns to go up 18-7 at the half.
The Tribe needed 11 minutes in the third period to wipe that lead out.
John Carpenter kicked a 23-yard field goal with 9:20 left in the period to cut to it to 18-10.
On his next drive, Graham connected with Tre McBride for his second score, this one from 19 yards. The two teamed up on a conversion pass, too, and it was tied at 18-18 with 4:06 left in the period.
MacArthur put UNH back on top, 21-18, with a 24-yard field goal with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter.
There were a couple of more lead changes to go.