Villanova’s offense was everything it was supposed to be. The Wildcats came into Williamsburg and started with the opening drive of the game. They methodically moved the ball downfield without a problem and capped off the drive with a touchdown. John Robertson connected with Kevin Monangai on a tricky shovel pass for a five yard touchdown to start off the game. On the ensuing possession, the Tribe would answer right back. William & Mary also put together a nice drive to move the ball along. Later in the drive, quarterback Steve Cluley found Tre McBride who would take it in for a 35-yard touchdown to tie it up early in the first quarter.
The Wildcats got the ball for their second drive of the game and had success moving the ball. William & Mary’s defense stiffened up a little more from the first drive, but ultimately gave up a number of key third down conversions. Villanova converted a third-and-one and a long third-and-18 in order to keep the drive alive. A long 39-yard pass from Robertson to Poppy Livers set up a first-and-goal from the two yard line. On the following play, Robertson punched it in for his first rushing touchdown of the game.
After a couple of stalled drives in the second quarter, William & Mary received the ball after a Villanova punt. A few plays later, the Tribe pulled out the ol’ flea flicker and got a long 56-yard touchdown out of it. Cluley’s touchdown pass once again went to McBride to tie the game at 14. Both defenses would then step up their play, forcing turnovers and punts. William & Mary fumbled away a few big opportunities to score while penalties hindered Villanova’s progress. With 1:31 left in the second quarter, the Tribe fielded the punt at their own 11 yard line. A number of big plays later, William & Mary found themselves into the red zone with 27 seconds remaining in the first half. A pass interference call on Villanova would bring the Tribe to the two yard line and that would set things up for Kendall Anderson. Anderson would punch it in for the lead and the score. William & Mary took a 21-14 lead into the half.
The Tribe had the ball to start off the second half, but came up empty handed. They would punt it away to Villanova. Robertson threw a perfectly placed deep pass to Clay Horne to bring the Wildcats close to the red zone. Later in the drive, Monangai ran the ball in from a yard out to tie the game at 21. Villanova and William & Mary would begin to trade scores once again. William & Mary kicker John Carpenter made a 26-yard field goal. John Robertson would then score his second rushing touchdown off of a three yard quarterback sweep. Villanova would take a 28-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Villanova was able to get the ball back but they would be shut down by William & Mary’s defense. Mike Reilly had a huge sack to bring the crowd to their feet and momentum was swinging their way. Their offense rode the momentum all the way to the end zone. Cluley threw to a wide open Andrew Caskin, who bobbled the pass initially before hanging on for the touchdown. The Tribe now had a 31-28 lead and all they had to do was protect it. They stopped Villanova on the ensuing drive and forced them to punt the ball away. It was now up to the Tribe to run down the clock and keep the ball. They did pretty well, taking off more than five minutes off until they had to punt.
Hunter Windmuller was lined up to punt the ball. His punt went straight up like a pop fly and was officially marked as a three yard punt. Instead of potentially being pinned down close to the end zone, the Wildcats took over at their own 33 yard line with less than two minutes to go in the game. Big receptions by Mike Burke and Clay Horne allowed the Wildcats to gain a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Burke was able to slice his way through the middle to gain 22 yards and Horne had another nice grab for 34 yards. Now in the red zone, Villanova had a chance to break the hearts of the William & Mary faithful. Robertson’s first pass was incomplete. On the next play, he found Kevin Gulyas who caught the ball and weaved his way into the end zone to put the Wildcats on top, 35-31.
With less than a minute left, William & Mary had one last chance to put together a drive to steal the game away. They were able to march down to the 47 yard line in Villanova’s territory. Cluley was sacked and the game looked finished until a penalty on Villanova gave them one more chance. A personal foul penalty was called on Pat Williams for continuing to play even though his helmet came off. The Tribe moved up 15 yards and the ball was placed on the 32 yard line, making it much more doable for William & Mary. Cluley let go of one last heave and ball bobbled around until finally hitting the turf. The game was over, and William & Mary’s homecoming was spoiled.
Much like last year’s result, John Robertson once again orchestrated a clutch last minute drive in order to win the game. Last year, he punched it in himself; this year, he passed it to his teammate. William & Mary has been on the heartbreaking end for two straight years now. Robertson was poised, even through all the pressure that the Tribe’s defensive line put on him. Robertson finished 20-for-32 with 267 yards and two touchdowns. He also added another pair of touchdowns on the ground. Kevin Monangai had 78 yards and a touchdown off of 17 carries. Clay Horne had two receptions for 84 yards. Poppy Livers finished with four receptions for 77 yards.
For William & Mary, their stars had great games but they were outplayed at the end. Steve Cluley had the game of his life, throwing for a career high 350 yards and three touchdowns. Tre McBride also set new career highs, he had 11 receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Mikal Abdul-Saboor carried the ball 23 times for 83 yards.
Villanova improves to 6-1 and remains undefeated in conference play. They will take on Morgan State next week on Saturday, October 25, at 3:30 p.m. It’ll also be the Wildcats’ homecoming game.