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Playoff loss to Villanova still stings Tribe
Eight months have passed since William and Mary’s 2009 football season ended with an epic 14-13 loss at Villanova in the Championship Subdivision playoff semifinals. But as the Tribe opened training camp Monday, the defeat still lingered.
“I don’t think I’m over it yet,” senior receiver Chase Hill said. “It’s still bitter. I haven’t beat them since I’ve been here, so it’s definitely a star on the ol’ calendar. We’ve got ‘em at home this year. … When a team has your number like that, it’s just, difficult.”
W&M has lost six consecutive games in the series and hosts Villanova on Oct. 2.
“I’m not sure that I am (over it),” defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said. “We play them on October 2nd, right?
“I remember driving home that night just miserable. We were up 10-0 at the half and I remember talking to the guys, we always use the phrase Mariano Rivera time (because) we consider ourselves closers. … I wouldn’t have thought we’d have given up the lead in the fourth quarter the way we’d played all year.
“The thing that really hurt was when we were down 14-13 they converted a couple of third downs, and teams hadn’t done that on us.”
Indeed, the Wildcats were 0-for-8 on third downs before converting three in the fourth quarter. The most critical was a third-and-7 from the Tribe 22, when officials ruled Chris Whiney’s pass to Brandyn Harvey incomplete, only to overturn the call upon review, giving Villanova a first-and-goal at the 6.
Whitney then scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard sneak. He later completed an 18-yard pass on a third-and-14 to help the Wildcats run out the clock.
“I remember after the next week, when Villanova (defeated) n the championship game, Coach (Jimmye) Laycock came in the office … and he looked right at me, and I said, ‘I think we could have beaten Montana, too,’ ” Shoop said. “No one even said anything. He just looked at me and I looked at him.”
Shoop evaluated the game tape several times.
“It’s as simple as can be,” he said. “All championship defenses, whether you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers and a 3-4, or whether you’re Tampa Bay when they were 4-3, or whether you’re us and you’re a fire, zone-blitz team, you stop the run, you eliminate big plays and you take the ball away.
“Well the two times we played Villanova, they were two highest rushing games against us all year, in both games we surrendered big plays … and we had 27 takeaways on the season but none against Villanova. I got news for you. That’s it right there.”
Actually, while the Wildcats’ 168 yards rushing in the playoffs were a season-high for Tribe opponents, their 114 in the regular-season contest was only fourth-best. Still, Shoop’s point is well-taken: W&M didn’t stop the run when it mattered.
And how long did the venerable Laycock, entering his 31st season, stew over the defeat?
“I’ll do a comparison for you,” he said. “I don’t know how long it was, but not as long as it took me the previous year to get over not being selected for the playoffs. The year before, I really thought we belonged in the playoffs. That really bothered me.
“The Villanova game: We played good, we played hard, we got some bad breaks, some things went against us. Hey, I was disappointed. I watched them play Montana and thought we could have handled Montana, too. But we didn’t get it done.”
With 12 starters and many reserves back, W&M should get it done against plenty of folks this season.
Posted by David Teel