TOWSON, Md. (Sept. 15, 2012) - The William and Mary football team nearly rallied back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit but was edged at No. 12/15 Towson, 20-17, in both teams' conference opener on Saturday afternoon.
The loss marked W&M's (0-3, 0-1) third consecutive closely contested game, as all three of its decisions this season have been by a margin of three points or less.
Towson (1-1, 1-0) outgained W&M, 422-258, and controlled the time of possession, 35:52-24:08.
Senior running back Meltoya Jones led the Tribe offensively, as he totaled a career-high 90 rushing yards on 14 carries and scored his first career touchdown. Sophomore running back Keith McBride II also played well and recorded 50 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Junior safety Jerome Couplin III totaled a game-high 15 tackles, while senior safety Brian Thompson registered 11 stops. Sophomore linebacker Airek Green also came up big with nine tackles and a sack, while sophomore defensive end Mike Reilly also recorded a sack.
Towson took an early 3-0 lead on a 27-yard field goal by D.J. Soven that capped off the contest's opening drive. The scoring march covered 65 yards on 15 plays and lasted 7:28.
W&M quickly answered with a seven-play, 68-yard scoring drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown run by Jones to give the Tribe a 7-3 lead with 3:12 remaining in the opening quarter. In addition to recording his first career touchdown, Jones powered the drive with 38 rushing yards on four carries.
TU threatened to score on its following possession, but Green and Couplin stopped running back Terrance West for no gain on a fourth-and-one from the Tribe's 9-yard line early in the second quarter.
A 41-yard field goal by junior placekicker Drake Kuhn with 6:05 remaining in the first half increased the Tribe's lead to 10-3. The 15-play scoring drive lasted more than eight minutes and was keyed by a 10-yard run from sophomore quarterback Raphael Ortiz on a fourth-and-3 at Towson's 44-yard line.
Towson evened the score at 10-10 when wide receiver Spencer Wilkins recovered a fumble in the end zone with just 0:08 remaining in the second quarter. Redshirt freshman linebacker Luke Rhodes forced the fumble on run by quarterback Grant Enders at the 2-yard line.
TU outgained the Tribe, 232-144, in the opening half and held an 18:22-11:38 advantage in time of possession. Most of the College's yardage came on the ground, as it piled up 111 yards on 18 carries during the opening 30 minutes.
A 30-yard field goal by Soven was the lone score of the third quarter and gave Towson a 13-10 edge.
The Tigers increased the margin to 20-10 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Enders to wide receiver Erron Banks with 8:15 remaining. The 8-play, 84-yard drive was highlighted by a 37-yard run by West.
W&M answered with a seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession that ended with a 2-yard scoring strike from Ortiz to senior tight end Nolan Kearney, cutting the margin to 20-17 with 5:44 remaining. Jones piled up 32 yards on three carries during the drive, while a pass interference call on Towson helped set up the touchdown.
After forcing a Towson punt, the Tribe began its final possession from its own 20-yard line with 1:34 remaining. Although Ortiz quickly led W&M into Towson territory, a 28-yard touchdown strike to sophomore wideout Tre McBride with 0:24 remaining was ruled an illegal pass. Due to the loss of down with the penalty, the College then faced a fourth-and-10 from TU's 33-yard line and was unable to convert. Towson then ran out the remaining 0:17.
West led Towson offensively with 153 rushing yards on 27 carries, while Banks finished with a game-high five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown.
The Tribe will return to action when it hosts No. 13/14 Delaware next Saturday at 7 p.m.