WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (Sept. 21, 2013) – The William and Mary football team extended its winning streak to three games with a 20-0 victory against Rhode Island in its conference opener on a rainy Saturday evening at Zable Stadium.
It marked the Tribe’s first shutout since the second game of the 2010 season against VMI, while it was the program’s first shutout versus at league opponent since defeating Towson, 31-0, in 2009. Additionally, the impressive effort marked the second consecutive game in which W&M has not allowed a touchdown, as the squad has now surrendered just 37 points through the first four games – the fewest by the program during a season-opening stretch since 1948.
The College (3-1, 1-0) outgained the Rams (1-3, 1-2), 316-215, and allowed just 11 first downs, while URI managed just one trip inside the red zone and was held to 6-of-18 on third downs.
Sophomore running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the third consecutive game with 108 yards on a career-high 26 carries, while junior wide receiver Tre McBride posted eight catches for 87 yards. Junior running back Jarrell Cooper scored on his only carry of the night, a 28-yard scamper late in the second quarter, while junior tight end Bo Revell provided the Tribe’s other touchdown with his only reception of the contest, a 49-yard catch on a pass from senior Michael Graham, just moments later.
Junior linebacker Airek Green posted another outstanding performance to lead the defensive corps, totaling a career-high 11 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two PBUs. Senior safety Jerome Couplin III and sophomore linebacker Luke Rhodes also came up big with 10 tackles apiece.
With a steady rain falling, neither team was able to generate much production offensively for the majority of the first half. After both team’s missed long field goals early in the contest, Cooper’s 28-yard touchdown run with 4:03 remaining in the second quarter gave W&M a 7-0 lead.
Following a quick three-and-out by URI on its ensuing possession, Graham connected with Revell on a 49-yard touchdown strike on the first play of the Tribe’s next drive to put the Green and Gold ahead 14-0 with less than three minutes remaining in the opening half.
W&M’s defensive unit was dominant in the opening stanza and held the Rams to just 84 yards and four first downs. Abdul-Saboor already had 71 rushing yards on 13 carries, while Graham completed 11-of-17 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown. Much of McBride’s production also came in the first half, as he recorded seven catches for 55 yards.
McBride returned the opening kickoff of the second half 64 yards to help set up another W&M score, as junior John Carpenter’s 20-yard field goal early in the third quarter capped off a 10-play drive that covered just 26 yards and extended the advantage to 17-0.
The College added another field goal by Carpenter on its next possession. McBride came up big on that scoring drive as well, as his 32-yard reception put W&M inside the red zone.
URI’s lone trip into the red zone was halted when Rhodes and junior defensive end Mike Reilly stopped running back Justin Semmes for no gain on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
Of the Rams’ 12 possessions, nine ended with punts while they were stopped on downs twice and missed a 47-yard field goal.
After a bye next Saturday, the Tribe will return to action when it plays at No. 20/22 Villanova on Oct. 5.