MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Aug. 31, 2013) – The William and Mary football team owned a second half lead against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team for the fourth time in the last five years, but was edged at West Virginia, 24-17, in both teams’ season opener on Saturday afternoon in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Tribe held a 10-point advantage midway through the third quarter, but WVU closed the contest with 17 unanswered points to rally back for the win. A 2-yard touchdown run by WVU running back Wendell Smallwood with 3:22 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the winning score. W&M nearly halted the game-winning drive inside the red zone when sophomore linebacker Luke Rhodes forced a fumble by wideout KJ Myers, but WVU wide receiver Dakiel Shorts recovered the loose ball at the 16-yard line.
W&M had a chance to answer the Mountaineers’ go-ahead touchdown, but senior quarterback Michael Graham was intercepted by Darwin Cook at the W&M 40-yard line on the first play of the ensuing possession.
Graham finished the contest completing 18-of-27 passes for 207 yards with a touchdown, while he also rushed for a score. Junior wide receiver Tre McBride also came up big with three catches for 108 yards, while junior fullback Darnell Laws totaled a career-high eight receptions for 45 yards with a touchdown.
After holding the Tribe to a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, WVU took an early 7-0 lead on an 11-yard touchdown run by running back Charles Sims with 11:03 remaining in the first quarter. The eight-play drive covered 67 yards and lasted just 2:24.
W&M tied the score at 7-7 with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Graham to Laws with 3:28 left in the opening quarter. The six-play, 62-yard drive lasted just 2:19 and was highlighted by a 40-yard leaping catch by McBride along the Mountaineer sideline at the 3-yard line. The drive started after WVU’s Josh Lambert missed a 55-yard field goal attempt.
The College took the lead on its next drive when Graham scrambled into the end zone from 5 yards out midway through the second quarter. The go-ahead touchdown was set up by a 28-yard reception by McBride that put W&M at the Mountaineer 2-yard line. In addition to rushing for the score, Graham completed 5-of-6 passes for 72 yards on the 12-play, 88-yard touchdown drive that lasted 6:04.
W&M extended its advantage to 17-7 with a 29-yard field goal by Carpenter with 0:23 remaining in the opening half. The short 22-yard drive began when junior defensive tackle Jasper Coleman recovered a fumble by quarterback Paul Millard at the WVU 34-yard line that was forced by Reilly.
The Tribe outgained the Mountaineers, 201-165, in the opening half and allowed just 5 yards in the second quarter. Additionally, the College scored points on all three of its trips into the red zone.
WVU opened the second half with a 15-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a 22-yard field goal by Lambert to cut the margin to 17-10 with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter.
The Mountaineers tied the contest on its following possession when Millard threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Carswell.
W&M had an opportunity to go back ahead on its following possession, but Carpenter missed a 42-yard field goal attempt from the right hash.
The teams remained scoreless until Smallwood’s late go-ahead touchdown.
Sims led WVU with 120 rushing yards on 23 carries with a touchdown, while Millard completed 19-of-25 passes for 237 yards with a touchdown.
Although W&M held the Mountaineers to just 2-of-10 on third downs, WVU outgained the Tribe, 409-309.
The Tribe will return to action when it hosts Hampton in its home opener next Saturday at 7 p.m.