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William and Mary

No. 4 Tribe Falls at UMass, 27-23, in Season Opener

AMHERST, Mass. - The fourth-ranked William and Mary football team fell at conference foe Massachusetts, 27-23, in both teams’ season opener on Saturday afternoon in Amherst, Mass.

Trailing 23-14 in the fourth quarter, UMass put together a pair of touchdown drives in the final 10 minutes to rally back for the victory. The outcome snapped the Tribe’s 14-game winning streak against unranked FCS opponents.

Video Highlights (Part 1)
Video Highlights (Part 2)

UMass utilized a balanced attack, totaling 215 rushing yards and 223 passing yards, en route to outgaining the College, 438-334. The effort snapped a 15-game streak in which W&M had outgained the opposition.

Making his first collegiate start, quarterback Mike Callahan completed 21-of-35 passes for 221 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Mountville, Pa., native also rushed for 39 yards and found the end zone on a 28-yard scamper.

Senior wide receiver Cameron Dohse registered three receptions for 70 yards, which included a 34-yard touchdown catch, while junior tight end Alex Gottlieb posted seven grabs for 70 yards. Walter Payton Award Watch List selection Jonathan Grimes led the squad on the ground with 67 yards rushing.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Jabrel Mines made the most of his first collegiate start with a game-high 16 tackles, while senior linebacker Evan Francks (12) and sophomore safety Brian Thompson (10) both finished with double-digit tackle totals.

After forcing a punt on UMass’ initial possession, the Tribe got on the scoreboard first when Callahan connected with senior fullback Jimmy Hobson on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 4:53 remaining in the first quarter. Callahan completed all five of his pass attempts on the 12-play, 50-yard drive that took 6:09.

Although Massachusetts’ next drive stalled on lost fumble by running back Jon Hernandez, the Minutemen later evened the score early in the second quarter on a 36-yard touchdown strike from Kyle Havens to Anthony Nelson. The big play capped off a seven-play, 85-yard drive that lasted 3:06.

Facing a fourth-and-eight on the UMass 28-yard line midway through the second quarter, Callahan evaded a near sack and raced down the left side before diving into the left corner of the end zone to put the Tribe back ahead, 13-7. In addition to the touchdown run, Callahan completed 3-of-5 passes for 47 yards – including a 28-yard strike to Dohse – on the eight-play, 82-yard drive. A muffed snap prevented W&M from converting the extra point.

The Minutemen responded on the ensuing drive to take their first lead of the contest, however, when running back John Griffin punctuated a 12-play, 66-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle with 1:36 remaining in the first half.

A 17-yard field goal by David Miller as the second quarter clock expired completed an 11-play, 79-yard drive to give the Tribe a 16-14 advantage at the half. A pair of 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties on the Minutemen aided the drive, while Callahan completed 5-of-8 passes for 42 yards to help set up the score.

UMass looked as if it might retake the lead late in the third quarter, but it failed to convert a fourth-and-and two from the 12-yard line. Havens rolled out on the fourth-down play and appeared to pick up the first down on his own, but he attempted a pass after crossing the line of scrimmage – and the first down flagstick – and was whistled for an illegal pass.

The Tribe took advantage of the mistake and quickly marched 96 yards in just five plays, as Callahan connected with Dohse a 34-yard touchdown pass to put W&M ahead, 23-14, with 14:27 remaining.

Massachusetts responded on its following possession with an 11-play, 64-yard drive that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run by Jon Hernandez to narrow the margin to 23-21 with 9:40 remaining.

A 5-yard touchdown by Griffin with 3:23 remaining, his second score of the day, put UMass back ahead, 27-23. The five-play drive covered 83 yards and lasted just 1:58. The scoring drive was keyed by a short pass from Havens to Hernandez that the running back ran 64 yards down to the Tribe 11-yard line. The Minutemen elected to go for a two-point conversion, which failed.

An interception by linebacker Tyler Holmes off a pass Grimes was unable to handle ended the Tribe’s ensuing drive and gave UMass possession at the W&M 31-yard line with 2:05 remaining. Shortly thereafter, Massachusetts converted a fourth-and-inches before running out the clock.

The Tribe will return to action next weekend when it hosts VMI for its home opener at 7 p.m.

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