#23 Tribe Defeats #15 Delaware
On October 19th, after Tribe football had just lost 20-34 to Maine in their worst game of the season, Tribe fans were beginning to worry that they would miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Fast forward three weeks and three consecutive upsets of ranked opponents later, and the #23 Tribe (7-3, 4-2) has clinched a winning record, and stands two wins away from an assured NCAA Playoff spot after a 24-10 win over #15 Delaware. This win also puts the Tribe into a four-way tie with Towson, New Hampshire, and Delaware for 2nd in the CAA standings. Due to the Tribe’s loss to Maine, they are ineligible to win the full CAA title, but we can win a share of it. The Tribe will have to wait until Monday morning to hear where they stand in The Sports Network Top 25 poll.
For the third consecutive week, the defense was amazing. The Blue Hens, who entered the game averaging 444 yards per game, were held to a season-low 207 yards and a mind-blowing -19 yards rushing. They also forced three turnovers: one fumble forced by Jared Velazquez, and two interceptions: one from Luke Rhodes, and the other from DeAndre Houston-Carson.
“Anytime you hold anyone in this league to negative yards rushing, it’s quite an accomplishment,” said head coach Jimmy Laycock on the Tribe’s defensive shutdown. This is the third week in a row that the Tribe’s defense has held the opposition to 10 points or less.
The offense gained 293 yards on the day. QB Brent Caprio completed 10 of 19 passes and threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns in his second consecutive start, while running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor rushed for a career high 140 yards and 32 carries.
The game didn’t start out so well; on the opening kickoff, Delaware defensive back Travis Hawkins ran the ball back for a 97 yard touchdown to put the Blue Hens up 7-0. This was the first time the Tribe had allowed a kickoff to be returned for a touchdown since 2004. It would be the only time Delaware would lead for the entire game.
The Tribe would punt on their first possession, but on Delaware’s next possession, safety Jared Velazquez forced a UD Quarterback Trevor Sasek fumble at the W&M 49. Jerome Couplin III picked up the loose ball and returned it 51 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
Things were starting to look bad when placekicker John Carpenter punted a ball from W&M’s end zone to their own 27 yard line. However, with an incomplete pass and two sacks, the Tribe’s D forced a 44 yard field goal attempt that Delaware kicker Sean Baner would miss wide right.
The Tribe would take the lead when John Carpenter finished a 43 yard, eight play drive with a career-long 47 yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the first quarter.
With just nine seconds left in the half, wide receiver Tre McBride made an outstanding catch for a touchdown, one that he tipped under the defender’s leg to himself, to give the Tribe a 17-7 lead going into halftime.
Early in the third quarter, linebacker Luke Rhodes intercepted a pass at the Delaware 36. Two plays later, Caprio threw a 30 yard touchdown pass to wideout Sean Ballard to give the Tribe a 24-7 lead.
Delaware would score again from a Sean Baner 36 yard field goal with six seconds left in the third quarter, but that would be it, and the Tribe held on to win 24-10.
The Tribe is now in a much better position to make the playoffs than they were three weeks ago. It seems that now, they are trying to win, instead of trying to not lose.
“We are in control of our own destiny, which is where we want to be. [We] just have to take it one game at a time,” said senior linebacker Quincey September on the Tribe’s playoff situation. September assisted three tackles on Saturday.
With two games left in the season, the playoff scenarios for the Tribe are simple: win two, and they’re in. Win one, and they can still probably make it in. Lose both, and it will make for a nerve-racking Selection Sunday.
The Tribe will play their biggest game of the season when they host the #11 Towson Tigers next Saturday for Senior Day at 1:30 pm at Zable Stadium. If they win, it will be the Tribe’s fourth consecutive win against a ranked opponent. The week after, they will take on the last place Richmond Spiders in the 70th annual Commonwealth Cup Championship.
Senior ceremonies will begin around 1:10 pm. Tickets can be bought through TicketReturn.com. It is recommended that all tickets be bought ahead of time, as the game is expected to sell out. The game can be watched through TribeAthleticsTV. Live audio will also be available through TribeAthleticsTV. The game will also be broadcasted on the radio through 92.3 The Tide FM and 107.9 Bach FM. Live stats are also available.